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Question of the Week

Like Father, Like Daughter? My Thoughts on Hannah, Her Father & Nine Bullet Holes.

First, watch this.

(Feel free to skip ahead to the next paragraph if you’ve already watched the video because the following is a recap.) In my beloved state of North Carolina, a teenage girl named Hannah wrote a pretty disrespectful letter to her parents and posted it on Facebook. Except she never intended her parents to find that note. Or at least, that’s the picture the dad painted. When he found the profanity laced ranting, he printed it out, grabbed his video camera and set up shop in the middle of an old tobacco field. This man was angry. Nothing but angry. From the way he smoked his cigarette, to the sidebar commentary he provided as he read “To My Parents.” So, why’d make the video? Well, he planned to post it on Hannah’s FB wall to show her “little friends” just who had the upper hand. He also handed out a bit of advice to parents of teenagers around the country. The advice was lost on me. It might have had something to do with checking up on your kids’ internet activities but that was completely overshadowed by what he did at the very end. He shot her laptop. Nine times. And then he said she had to get a job and pay him back, not just for the $130 software improvements he’d made the day before but also for the cost of the bullets. $1 per bullet. Clsssy.

Great. Now we’re all on the same page. Here are my thoughts:

  •  Hannah wanted her parents to find the Facebook rant. According to her dad, she’s done this before and was grounded for three months. And while her father didn’t think she was “stupid enough” to try to hide this note from them, I’m inclined to agree with him. Dad of Hannah works in IT. The first time she did this she probably thought she could get away with it. And maybe she spent that three month period trying to think of a way to outsmart her parents. We’ve all been there. You know, where we think they’re just about the dumbest people to have ever walked the Earth and certainly can’t figure out something as complex as Facebook’s privacy settings. So maybe she thought she could control the privacy settings and keep them out.  But I’d bet every dime I own that she wanted them to find that letter. Still, she wasn’t stupid enough to print it out and hand deliver it. Nor was she stupid enough to post it to her wall publicly. So she “hid” it and bought herself an unknown amount of time. She knew he would find it, read it, and blow a gasket. What she didn’t count on is that he’d blow nine bullet holes into her beloved laptop with a Colt .45.
  • Everyone knows that the first thing you do after you write the Dear John/Mom/Dad letter is burn it. You never send it (or leave evidence of it) unless you’re a teenager. When you’re 15 or 16, not only do you lack the mental capacity and forethought required to keep bad situations from getting worse, you don’t give a rat’s ass about making matters worse. I can just picture Hannah in her bedroom, enraged by the injustices of having to clean the house everyday without an allowance (only part of me is being sarcastic, the other part really gets it), clicking away on her laptop, hitting that share button (with privacy settings to restrict her parents) and feeling like she really wanted to tell them to [insert profanity] off.
  • You can’t do that and I don’t expect a 16-year old girl to know that but I’m sure she’ll eventually figure it out. What she needs to learn, what we all need to learn, is how to effectively deliver the message without alienating the other person. There is a way to say I feel unappreciated, unseen, unheard, unloved, and disrespected without using any of the following phrases: “I’m not your damn slave,” or “Clean up your own shit,” or “That’s why we have a maid. Her name is Linda.” When you talk to anyone with this kind of language and tone, they will undoubtedly become enraged. Now what they do with that rage is entirely their responsibility. But you have to have an inkling for what they might do next. I don’t blame Hannah for not knowing how to communicate with her family. Obviously, her dad hasn’t been the best example as he just shoots his problems. This form of retaliation discipline sends her the worst possible message.
  • Before the days of Facebook, Twitter, blogs — hell, the internet, this kind of teenage rebellion was just called, “Dear Diary.” How many of us took to our journals after feeling completely frustrated with our parents? Offhand, there are probably half a dozen notebooks scattered around my childhood bedroom. Half of them are just about my father. The other half outline in great detail how much I hated the world. Particularly my high school English teacher who complained to my parents at a parent-teacher conference that my lack of appreciation for literature would come at a great cost to my grades and I needed to stop reading trashy novels. Oh, how I really hated that woman. There were also about 14 dozen girls who I absolutely could not stand from grades 1-12. They probably took up three or four journals, too. Did I publish these journals for the world to see? No. But that’s only because it wasn’t the world we lived in back then. The fact that she published these notes on the internet doesn’t make the note any less private. Did my parents go through my stuff? All the time. Did they read my diaries? Of course. Were they stupid enough to clue me in on the fact that they’d read my diary? Well… My mother’s smart. I knew she read them  but she never said anything to confirm my suspicions. She’d ask me to make my bed or change my sheets, I’d refuse and she’d do it herself. And guess where I hid my journal? My father, on the other hand, would go through my bookcase, side table, desk, and backpack. And then he’d EXPLODE. Well, after the first few times he just so happened to be “dusting” my bookcase or looking for a pen in my desk, I realized he was just snooping. So I stopped hiding my diaries and just laid them out for him to read. Snooping felt like such an invasion of my privacy and trust and I had never given them a reason to distrust me (before they started snooping). My new policy was eerily transparent. Look right here for my innermost thoughts that I’m no longer hiding. Yes, this is still private so whatever hurt you feel as a result of reading something that you shouldn’t have read is your own fault. And by the way, now that I know you’re snooping through my stuff, I’ll be sure to write especially hurtful things to teach you a lesson. In fact, I’m kind of glad you’re reading this. I want you to read this, you {insert many profanities here}. And why aren’t you smart enough to figure out that I’m doing this on purpose, you [insert just one profanity] idiot, you?

Initially, I wondered if Hannah had tried to talk to her parents about how overwhelmed she feels by life. By the time the video was over, I knew he wasn’t the kind of father who would listen. Yes, I’m judging this family. He posted a video of himself putting nine rounds through his daughter’s laptop. He wants judgment and I readily give it. His daughter is rude, selfish and incredibly disrespectful. She’s also a 16 year old girl. I’m also confident that she’ll grow out of it. I was pretty rude, selfish, disrespectful and spiteful at her age and I think I behave in mostly age appropriate ways as an (almost) 30-something. This kind of behavior, these character traits don’t just appear out of nowhere. Every trace of rudeness and selfishness, every disrespectful word is learned behavior. In Hannah’s case, it’s clearly linked to her father and maybe her mother since requested one of those bullets have her name on it, too. Hannah acted rashly, like her father. She acted out of anger, like her father. She acted without thought for anyone’s feelings, like her father. My hope for her is that she finds an awareness between their shared similarities and works on becoming a more understanding, forgiving, and compassionate person. I hope they both do. I hope we all do.

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About Bella

I’m an (almost) 30-something free-lance writer, blogger, genealogist, and friend. Yep. If you pay me, I’ll be your friend. Initial fees are subject to negotiation. You can also contact me about product reviews and ad space. Everything is for sale around here. I make my home in Boston with my roommate, Jane Doe; my 12 year old dog, Chewy; and Jane’s feral cat, Felix. I’m addicted to reading Mormon mommy blogs, Huffington Post, Jezebel, and Facebook status updates.

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