Talk of the town
It has been suggested that my old-fashioned, increasingly unreliable, but beloved Blackberry is an actual extension of my hand. I don’t disagree. But I do offer some defensive explanation in that to call my home phone number is a fool’s errand because the ringer is turned off and I am rarely at home.
Our quaint little plug-in phone exists solely for power outages and other emergencies. Sistafoo also uses it to stalk me out of earshot of her caretakers whenever I dare to leave home without her. And on occasion the boys will fumble with it if their own phones are out of commission, but they are adorable failures with old technology.
Once, Venom Pen used the landline to call a friend at home. He was convinced that “this stupid phone” was broken when after several attempts he failed to hear ringing on the other line. He was certain the remedy was to use my cell phone. I had to gently pry Ma Bell’s phone from his frustrated white knuckles, dial the number, listen, then politely explain low-tech busy signals to my high tech teen. I even managed to keep a straight face.
I don’t heavily screen my calls unless, of course, and after 11 years in the Bellevue School District, I have learned to ALWAYS answer calls with a “456” prefix…always.
Before their first day of preschool, I taught Sweetie-Boy, Venom Pen and Sistafoo that in any situation, anywhere, if they feel like they need to call home , it is okay to politely insist on access to a phone if they don’t have their own. “Call me,” I said.
Looking back, either I over taught, or they over-learned. Because my kids call me, a lot. Most of these calls or texts are quick and logistical in nature, i.e. pick me up at this place at this time.
Daytime calls from school are more complicated and can present pivotal parenting choices. Is it more important to teach consequences or scurry to school to deliver a flash drive just in time for a presentation? Is it good or bad to respond to a fashion S.O.S., or to deliver cleats to the field again? (Note: the phone just rang. The kid with the freakish cough just called with an “update” underscored with a silent plea to come home. No deal, I will deliver cough suppressant in a bit.)
I always consider the kid humiliation to mommy inconvenience ratio while pondering the worst case scenarios from their perspective. For example, having to manage a missed deadline, a lack of lunch money or a do or die social quandary without a mommy-assist could build life skills such as assertiveness, resourcefulness and guts. On the other hand, I am not sure losing a letter grade or missing school pictures due to forgotten papers is necessarily the best time to teach a lesson.
Lately the kids are finding time to throw me a few curve calls. Last week Sistafoo put me on the spot in front of a school office audience when she called to ask if she was taking the Enrichment Test. I hemmed and hawed my way through an explanation of why I had not signed her up. She was undeterred and turned to ask the school secretary for the phone number to the Enrichment Office. I was speechless until the school secretary got on the line, but I regained my senses in time to ask if there is a special fast pass to the Gifted Program for kids who arrange their own testing. Oh well, it was worth a shot.
Now that the kids seem to have gotten the hang of this whole phone thing I think I will revise my Call Me policy to something a little more modern, and convenient. From now on instead of saying Call Me, I think I’ll say Call Me…Maybe.
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