The TV

A recipe for disaster turns into a bonding experience for two sisters. Read more from @649point133Phaedra has had a TV and DVD player in her room for years.  It was accepted by all (begrudgingly by one) that since Phaedra has the larger bedroom all to herself, she has to share her room in terms of playtime and watching the TV during the daytime.  However, this summer is the first that Bella has put together this series of logic:

1.  Phaedra is allowed to watch DVDs to go to sleep on non-school nights.

2.  I would like to do this also.

3.  My bed is not in Phaedra’s room.

4.  I do not have a TV or DVD player in my room.

5.  I want a TV and DVD player in my room.

Thus began Bella’s campaign for her own TV.  She started off slowly, asking Phaedra to turn up the volume on her TV so she could hear it from across the hall in her bed.  But when she started to disagree with Phaedra’s DVD choices, she started to get real.

“I wish I had a TV in my room like Phaedra.”

“Yeah, that would be nice.” (Sometimes if I just agree and don’t commit to actually doing anything, the problem goes away.)

“Can I have a TV in my room?” (But not in this case.)

“You can ask for one for Christmas!” (This is my default answer for things I don’t want to buy.)

“Can I have a TV for my birthday?”

“Um, well, Christmas comes before your birthday, but…”

“Can I have a TV for Christmas?”

“Maybe.  I’ll talk to Daddy and see what we think.” (This is my other default answer for things I don’t want to buy.)

The following night:

“Did you talk to Daddy and see what you think about a TV in my room?”

“Well, I said we’ll see what we think about a TV for Christmas.”

“UGGGGHHHH! Why can’t you tell me what you think NOW?!”

Because, kid, I don’t want to put a TV in your room.  On the one hand, it’s not fair that only Phaedra gets this privilege.  Bella is about the same age as Phaedra was when we gave her our old TV and bought a $25 DVD player on Amazon.  Plus, Bella’s autism sometimes means a different set of rules for her vs. the rest of the family, so we try to keep things consistent whenever possible.  However, it’s the autism that’s really making me reluctant to opening this can of worms.  Screen time is already a battle with Bella, and her obsessive nature is going to make it hard for her to go to sleep, and to not watch TV when school starts and the TV stays off at night.

After a two-week battle, I finally gave in after remembering we have a spare TV in our basement.  Don’t worry, we’re not rich assholes — we just happen to have generous family members who do responsible things like “replace furniture when necessary” and shop at stores that are crazy enough to hand out TVs to people when they buy a new couch.  So last week, after much celebration by the sort-of-unwashed masses, a new little TV and DVD player were ready to roll at bedtime.

It’s super driving me crazy.

Here’s why: Surrey and Bella, who share a room, have recently decided to have “sleepovers”.  A sleepover is when Bella sleeps in the bottom bunk with Surrey.  Since her bed directly faces the TV, they can lay down and quietly watch cartoons together until they both fall asleep.

In theory.

This is a rundown of how the evening actually progresses:

8:30pm: Turn on movie after minimal debate over DVD selection, tuck both girls in, say goodnight.

9:00pm: Tell girls to stop jumping and screaming.

9:15pm: Tell girls I really mean it — no more yelling and playing in bed.

9:16pm: Clear all additional toys that have somehow magically made their way onto the bed since I tucked them in at 8:30pm.

9:20pm: Tell child that no, they’ve already had a drink of water and they cannot get up to get another.

9:21pm: Bring kid drink of water anyways because I’m weak.

9:30pm: Hit “play” on DVD player one more time, because again, I am weak.

10:00pm: Threaten to turn off DVD player if I HEAR ONE MORE JUMPING NOISE OR LOUD VOICE I REALLY MEAN IT.

10:30pm: Ask a ridiculous question I never envisioned asking my children two full hours after their bedtime, as in, “Why does it smell like nail polish in here?  WHY ARE THERE TWO BOTTLES OF OPEN NAIL POLISH LAYING ON THIS BED OH JESUS TAKE THE WHEEL BEFORE I DRIVE THIS BUS OFF THE CLIFF.”

11:00pm: Resolve that you really are not stepping foot in that bedroom again for the rest of the night, as it is now basically Thunderdome and you are not interested in playing Tina Turner (because nobody is as fierce or sick as her, and also because you have allergies and all those furs she has on would just make your eyes itch all day long).

12:00pm: Find them snuggled up with each other, sleeping.

That last part?  The part where I find them together at midnight sleeping happily with their foreheads pressed together?  That’s why I keep putting up with this ridiculousness.  Bella and Surrey have now become partners in bedtime crime.  They think I can’t hear them when they laugh hysterically or play “midnight piggy-back ride” (I don’t want to know what that is, but I heard them talking about it once in the car).  Last night I watched these two knuckleheads try to sneak past my bedroom door and head down the hall to the bathroom, where they loudly got their drink on from the bathroom sink and went potty (even though they SWORE they went potty before bedtime).  They they “sneaked” back into their room, and frantically slammed the door and ran to their bed when I yelled for them to get right back into bed.  I know a day will come when Surrey won’t want to have “sleepovers” with Bella.  But for now?  I am in absolute love with their silly shit and watching them buddy up together.  I will let a lot of questionable things fly in the name of sister bonding.

The other night, I came in to check on the girls for the 49th time, and found Surrey fast asleep, curled up against Bella, who could barely keep her eyes open.

“Surrey’s asleep, huh?”

“Yeah.”  She sat up and looked at Surrey.

“Look, Bella!  Surrey’s all snuggled up with you.”


“You know she does that because she really loves you, right?”

Bella smiled really big, laid back down, and cozied up to her little sister.


I’m pretty sure they think that they got the better end of the bargain with this TV.  I’m pretty sure they’re wrong.

A recipe for disaster turns into a bonding experience for two sisters. Read more from @649point133Follow me on Facebook and Twitter so you never miss a post.  Better yet, pop your email address in the box at the top of the page and subscribe!  Also, you can read my essays in I Just Want to Be Alone, I Still Just Want to Pee Alone, and You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth!

This entry was posted in ambivalence, autism, Bella, expert negotiation skills, famous last words, sister love, Surrey, where's the off switch. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The TV

  1. Meredith says:

    Love, love, love this post. From the “9:21pm: Bring kid drink of water anyways because I’m weak.” to the adorable heads cozied up together, we do sleepovers too–I’m with you, friend.

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