Episode opens as a repairman is completing the installation of a home intercom system at the Stone’s residence. The intercom allows easy communication between the kitchen and Alex’s office. Mary decides she wants to be the one to test it so Donna goes to Alex’s office so they can receive the first communication. When Donna gets there she is surprised to find Alex talking with his friend, Dr. Beau, who has been away. The friends are getting caught up and don’t notice how long it is taking Mary to try the intercom. Finally, Donna presses the listen button on the intercom and overhears Jeff and Mary who are in the midst of a heated argument. Alex and Donna go to break up the squabble.
Jeff is not happy with the outcome of the parental intervention. He feels his parents always side with Mary and that Mary is the favorite child. He goes outside to sulk and is met by his buddy, Nick, who is also a younger sibling. They commiserate about the older child always getting the privileges and love.
Meanwhile, Alex and Donna are planning a party for Beau. Mary asks if she can stay up and play piano. Though it is an adult party, they agree she may stay to play one song. Jeff asks if he can do some magic tricks, but they say he is too young for an adult party. Jeff feels slighted again.
The night of the party Mary is playing piano and Jeff heads up to bed. Nick is outside his window and they again discuss how mistreated they are. When Mary’s performance receives echoing applause, Jeff decides to sneak out with Nick to get a chocolate soda.
The party ends and Donna heads up to tuck Jeff in. She is alarmed to find he is not there. She leaves to get Alex and Jeff sneaks back in and into bed. She returns with Alex and is confused to find Jeff “asleep”. She lifts the covers and sees Jeff is still fully clothed. Jeff confesses to sneaking out.
The next morning Jeff is sad and angry. Donna and Alex are baffled.
Jeff goes to see Dr. Beau and confesses his feelings. He is hurt and feels like he is second best. He leaves and Beau goes to Donna and Alex with Jeff’s confession.
Donna wants to find a subtle way to tell Jeff he is loved. He comes home and gets some ice cream. As Donna leaves the kitchen she switches on the speaker of the intercom. Nick comes over and Jeff runs up to get something in his room. It is just Nick in the kitchen when Alex and Donna start discussing how much Jeff is loved. Nick is very moved.
Nick switches off the intercom as Jeff returns. Nick lays into Jeff about what a jerk he is for not realizing how much his parents love him. Nick leaves.
Donna and Alex return to the kitchen and Jeff asks Donna to confirm things that Nick said. Donna and Alex confirm that Jeff is and always will be adored by them. Jeff is appeased and again feels like a valued member of the Stone clan.
Sometimes people in our lives need to be served an extra helping of love.
In this episode Jeff’s feelings could easily be described as immature and irrational. Of course his parents love him! But we all have gone through irrational times where we need a little extra assurance of our worth to those we love. Insecurity is perhaps the most human of all human characteristics.
For me, I know I need a little extra validation that I am loved when I feel insecure about other aspects of my life. If I feel bad about work or frustrated that an endeavor is not going well, I seek solace and stability in the love of my husband or family. It is the constant that makes the other struggles possible to endure.
Fortunately, my partner is generous in giving me extra affection when I need it. I try and do the same for him when he is in need. The truth is we all need the extra attention sometimes. It is one of the reasons we need each other.
Lately, I have been feeling bad about the fact that I seem to be needing more affection than normal. Our move and my job search have left me feeling unusually vulnerable. My husband has been wonderfully supportive. I am so lucky to have him.
Plan Of Action
I will not feel bad that I need a little extra TLC right now – its my turn. These things always cycle and I will be the provider of the TLC again.