Thursday, October 23, 2014

Olympic Phone Sprint

As we look forward to the next Olympics, I’d like to propose a new event…

The Phone Sprint.

Hear me out.  There doesn’t seem to be much else that hasn’t turned into an Olympic event. We can be relaxing watching television and if the phone rings… take cover!  Let’s just say you don’t want to be caught in the crossfire.  I can’t remember seeing anything move so fast as my kids to toward a ringing phone. With a shout of "I’ll get it," or "It’s for me," they will run to the phone as if it were a bomb that will detonate if it rings twice. 

I’m a fairly hip parent. I understand the need to connect with friends but the phone drives me nuts. I think back to myself as a teenager. Granted, times and technology were a little different. I had limitations on the use of the phone.  My Mom used to time my calls with a three-minute egg timer.  There weren’t options like call waiting, call forwarding, or conferencing.  Who am I kidding?  There weren’t options.

I could handle the phone ringing constantly if these teenagers would exercise some tact.

True story.  A young man calls my home at 3 a.m. and asks to speak with my daughter, who was 16 years old at the time. It's a school night. I think the conversation went something like this:

"Hello." (Me half asleep)
"Hey man, is Julie home?" (Not her real name)
"Do you know what time it is?" (Me, waking up and testing basic intelligence)
"Yea man, it's a little late but she told me to call her tonight, so is she, like home?" (Obviously missed the point of my asking the time question)
"Well, whether or not Julie is home is irrelevant, she can’t take calls at this hour." (Me, wide awake now and losing patience)
"Dude, you don’t have to get an bleep bleep attitude." (Edited for family)

He proceeded to call three more times over the next hour, each time hanging up until in desperation I unplugged the phone. I’d like to tell you this had never happened before but I’d be lying. I have curfews on phone calls and my kids tell people they can’t take calls after a certain hour but it doesn’t matter, people still call. I began unplugging the phone at night after a certain hour.  This has helped quite a bit. Once before, I changed my phone number, blocked caller-id, and didn’t give the number to my kids for about three weeks. They could call out, but didn’t know a number to give people to call them. I finally gave them the number but it was a quiet three weeks.

I am constantly trying to reach some middle ground when it comes to the phone. I don’t want to be a tyrant but at the same time, responsibility and accountability need to be enforced. At one time or another I have had every block available put on my phone. And whomever the person was that came up with the neat concept of using an 800 toll-free number to bait someone into a 900 toll call, should be shot. I can’t begin to tell you the conversation I had with the phone company when a call showed up on my bill for some "Sports betting line service" that a friend of my daughters happened to call while at my house. It was a free call that magically transferred over to a toll call. I finally got the outlandish charge rescinded since I had 900 blocking on my phone but it was a battle that took months and left me bewildered.

So what is the moral here? I’m not sure, maybe I’m just venting. I guess in dealing with your kids and their use or abuse of the phone, just try and be fair but set rules. Unfortunately, like in my case, other kids don’t give a rat’s posterior about your rules some of the time. If that happens, you might want to try some of the extreme things I have. My next step is to disconnect the home phone and buy a cell phone for the calls I have to make and receive. Hopefully, it will never come to that. I would write more but the phone’s ringing. Never mind, one of the kids got it. Under three seconds too… now who do I need to contact on the Olympic committee?

Until next time...


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