Hello and welcome back! There was a bit of drama with my big sister, Jill, in our house recently. This time, I didn’t have anything to do with it. But because of what happened to Jill, I learned a pretty big lesson: finding healthy ways to control your temper before your temper controls you. Allow me to share…
The drama started right after Jill (who’s going to be fifteen soon), returned from sleepaway camp about a month ago. At camp, Jill had gotten used to not having my parents around.
While she was away, no one really told her what to do. Well, maybe stuff like when it was time to eat or take a shower. But I’m guessing Jill wanted to do those things anyway. When Jill came home, it was hard for her adjust to having my parents again.
According to Jill, my mom and dad were “being so nosy.” According to my mom and dad, they just wanted to know basic parents’ stuff. Things like whether Jill had plans were for the night, where she was going, and who she’d be going with.
One day, my dad jokingly asked Jill who she was on the phone with for so long. She had been on the phone for nearly two hours.
“Oh my gosh, Dad,” Jill said in a huff. “It’s none of your business!”
Then my dad got annoyed. He said, “Since you not paying the phone bills, Jill, I have the right to know how you’re using my phone.” (Between you and me, I couldn’t imagine talking on the phone for so long. How could you have so much to say?)
My dad is usually pretty easy going. When he’s bothered by something, you know you’ve probably crossed the line.
But not Jill. Instead, she yelled “just leave me alone!” to my dad. Then she slammed her bedroom door shut.
I couldn’t tell if the windows shook or not, but it was a loud slam.
Slamming Doors Over Chores
The next day, Jill was still kind of crabby. My mom asked her to help with the dishes from breakfast. Jill clanked the dishes around. Carelessness gets my mom quite steamed.
“Please be more a bit gentle with those dishes,” my mother warned. “They can chip if you keep banging them like that.” Jill said “fine,” but when she was done, she left the kitchen angrily. And what did she do? If you guessed “slammed her door,” you would be correct.
After a few minutes, my mom and dad went up to Jill’s room. I heard my mother knocking on Jill’s door. Jill called “What?” but didn’t open her door.
So, my parents had to speak to Jill through the closed door. I could tell this conversation wasn’t going to go well for Jill.
“We’ve asked you not to slam your bedroom door,” my dad said as calmly as he could. “You can damage the door or something else.”
“If you’re upset and you don’t want to talk about it, that’s OK. You’re welcome to hit or scream into your pillow. Stomp your feet if you want to,” my mom said. (I knew she was super upset, but she was trying to be calm too.) “Just do something that’s not destructive if you need to let off some steam.”
“Fine,” Jill shouted. “Just leave me alone!”
Jill’s door slamming continued, though. In fact, it went on for several more days. She didn’t seem to get the message that there were better ways to take out her anger.
Not So A”door”able
One day, my parents had had enough.
“The next time you slam your door, Jill,” my dad said, “I will be removing it from the hinges for a week.” Jill seemed a little surprised at that punishment. She just shrugged her shoulders and muttered “whatever” under her breath.
“We’re not kidding,” my mother said. Jill didn’t say anything else after that.
For a few days, she even stopped slamming her door.
But, it wasn’t long before my parents somehow annoyed Jill again (I’m sure I would never do anything to annoy her. Ha ha.)
I can’t remember what had caused Jill to get upset. But lo and behold, she slammed her door again. My parents didn’t do anything immediately. I wondered if they’d follow through on the door-removal.
When Jill went to a friend’s house later that day, I saw my dad going up to her room with his tools.
“Uh oh,” I thought. I went outside to play because I didn’t want to be around when Jill got home.
When Jill came home later, no one said anything about her missing door. We all waited for her to notice. It didn’t take long. Jill had gone upstairs to make a phone call. But then she came barreling downstairs seconds later.
“Where is my door?” she fumed. She eyed my mother then my father. I was happy to be out Jill’s line of fire.
“You slammed your door earlier,” my dad said in his most even tone.
“And just like we said we would, we took down your door,” my mom added. “You’ll have it back in a week.”
“A week? A week without my door?” Jill said. “What about my privacy? How will I change?”
“You can use a bathroom,” my father said. “We’re fortunate to have more than one.”
Jill hit the roof as the saying goes. Her face got all red. She stomped around for quite some time. She said lots of things that I’m sure she’d later wish she could take back.
But my parents didn’t budge.
Jill’s Back Up Plan
Jill is crafty, I’ll give her that. She found a way to put a blanket up over where the door would go. She had to enter and exit the room really carefully though. The blanket wasn’t very sturdy.
Jill also decided to spend more time in the playroom. The room that we shared. My parents hadn’t taken the door off to the playroom. Jill thought she’d outsmarted them. But only a little.
One time, when I was using the playroom, Jill told me to leave. Something about an important phone call. When I pointed out that this wasn’t her room and we had to share it, she offered me a dollar. That seemed like a good trade to me. Particularly since my room had a door.
When One Door Closes, Another One Opens
Our week of peace—one without door slamming—had finally come to an end. As agreed, my dad quietly put Jill’s door back on the hinges.
Jill was so happy when she saw that her door had been returned. She actually tried to hug the door. We all laughed at that. Even Jill.
“I know you think we were a little extreme in dealing with your door slamming,” my mom said to Jill. “But we wanted you to realize that slamming a door isn’t a healthy way to express your feelings.”
Jill scrunched her mouth but didn’t say anything. She probably wouldn’t ever admit it, but I think Jill got the message. Later that night, both of us discovered that our mom had left journals on our beds.
“Use this journal however and whenever you want,” my mom had written on a post-it note.
Learning One of Those Lessons to Live By: Control Your Temper Before It Controls You
Jill had to learn a hard lesson during her week without a door. She needed to find another way to let out her anger. Without taking it out on her door. And our ears. My mother hoped writing might be a good way for Jill to express herself.
Turns out, I probably loved getting the journal more. I mostly used my journal to write stories. But sometimes I’d use it to complain about things that made me upset.
After that experience, Jill stopped slamming her door. She still got angry, but she figured out ways how to handle her emotions differently.
It only took a week of losing her door for Jill to figure out how not to lose her temper.
Through Jill, I learned an important lesson: it’s OK to feel upset and express your feelings. But make sure you do it in a way that doesn’t cause damage to yourself or others (except maybe a pillow).
OK, I’m about to finish a really good book, so it’s time for me to go. I promise I’ll be back soon.
Until then, be your best you.
Have you learned any lessons to live by lately? What were they? Subscribe to my blog and be first to read my stories when I share them!