The following is taken from Hannah’s blog, Sometimes A Light. Reprinted with permission.
My father is not a violent or angry man; he is excruciatingly patient and self-possessed. Unlike many fathers, he never roared, strutted or flaunted his authority. He didn’t yell or belittle me. When I failed, he didn’t condemn.
It was terrifying.
In fact, my most uncomfortable childhood memories are of sitting across from him after he had caught me doing something I shouldn’t have. Silent, he would simply look at me. My conscience, on the other hand, would be screaming, Just punish me–-get it over with! But I dared not say anything either. One thing I had learned through these encounters was to keep my mouth shut. Talking only got me into trouble.
He would break the silence after several minutes by simply saying, “Tell me what you did.”
This was my cue. Predictably, I began with “I didn’t do anything.” Then I’d confidently rehearse my version of events and, more often than not, conclude with an out-right lie. He’d listen, sit silently for another few minutes and then simply repeat, “Tell me what you did.”
So for a second time, I’d tell my story, perhaps revise a few facts and add a detail of truth, hoping to convince him. But he was too smart for that. He’d listen and again merely say, “Tell me what you did.” Usually, by this point I’d begin to get frustrated. Was he deaf? I just told him twice what happened. What more can I say? This is getting us nowhere. But I had no choice, so I’d repeat my hopeless excuse for a third time.