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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Phone Etiquette

This is more about my kids than it is me. My kids have zero knowledge of how to use the phone. I could blame texting but really, Tommy and Belle are the worst. Nico isn't far behind but the twins take the cake. I'll give you the three scenarios that happen all the time.


The phone rings and I see that it is one of his friends. I tell him I don't care if he hangs out but he has chores to do and his treatment to do before he can and I might not be able to get him anywhere if it is during Gia's nap.

Nico (picking up the phone): Heeelllooo?
He listens intently and says: Hold on. (at this point he lowers the phone) Mom, so and so wants to know if I want to ______(fill in golf, go to the pool, go to downtown Wheaton, any activity).
Me: You have stuff to do before you can.
Nico (sighing and looking confused): Ummm..I have stuff I have to do. I can't. Ummm...hold on. (He lowers the phone again.) Mom, it's not until later.
Me: Fine then.
Nico (to me but with the phone near his mouth, he whispers): I don't really feel like doing that.
Me (looking at him like he isn't the sharpest tack in the drawer when it comes to phone use and whispering): Then don't go but he can hear you.
Nico (realizing he might not be the sharpest tack in the drawer when it comes to phone use): Sorry, I can't. (And then he hangs up).

Why is it so hard for kids to say, "I don't really feel like doing that. Maybe we can hang out another time."? He doesn't expect anyone to change what they are doing and if he ends up sitting home alone, that is on him.


I answer the phone and it is one of Belle's friends. I give her the phone and say she can't play because we are leaving for Nico or Tommy's game.

Belle: Hello? Hi. Ummm...hold on. Mom, can I play?
Me (looking at her in complete disbelief): Right now?
Belle (asking her friend and then answering): Yes. Can I?
Me (again in disbelief): No
Belle: Why not????
Me: I just said we had Nico's game.
Belle (lowering the phone): I HATE GOING TO THE GAMES!!!!
Me: Hang up with your friend before you throw your fit.
Belle (into the phone and now crying): I can't. I have to go to my stupid brother's game.

I am convinced that she really believes that the answer will change once she is on the phone as if I just can't say no once her friend is on the line.

Tommy's main issue is leaving messages. He'll call a friend and the answering machine comes on and he panics and hangs up. He cries that his friend wasn't home.

Me: Did you leave a message?
Tommy: No. I forgot.
Me: Well if you want them to know you called then you have to leave a message.
Tommy (calling the person back and in an unintelligible voice): Hi, this is Tommy. I was wondering if _____could play. Call me back.
Me (after he hangs up): Tom, when you leave a message, you have to talk so they can understand you. They might not even know that it is you calling.
Tommy (looking like a light bulb switched on): I forgot to say Tommy G! There are two other Tommys! I have to call back!
Me (really feeling bad for the house that he is calling): I think he knows it is you, Tommy. (Too late. He called back.)
Tommy (in a loud voice): Hi, this is Tommy G! I called before. It was Tommy G!

Tommy then proceeds to cry that he always gets answering machines. Tommy is also the one that gets grounded a lot from playing with friends (going to bed early, which during baseball season is near impossible and not being able to play with friends are the two things that hurt him the most).  That conversation goes like this:

He answers the phone knowing he is grounded and can't play: Hold on, I'll ask. Mom, can I play?
Me: No.
Tommy: What should I tell  him?
Me: How about that you are grounded since that is why you can't play.
Tommy: I can't tell him that!
Me (having no idea why he can't say that): Well, I think you should be honest. You'll have to figure something out.
Tommy (putting the other child on hold for longer than is necessary) finally answered: I can't Bye.
Me: Tommy, I have an idea. If you can't tell your friends that you are grounded and can't play, why don't you stop doing what you did to get grounded in the first place?
Tommy: Yeah, that's a good idea.

The other thing that happens is that I tell the kids they can't play. They go off with the phone and then come back and argue with me until I raise my voice yelling that they can't and that's too bad and my world doesn't revolve around their social lives and then...the little lovebugs get back on the phone and tell the person they can't. Meanwhile, the other child just heard me lose my temper.

I've tried teaching them how to be better. I've walked through how they should answer their friends. Just when I think they've got it, the phone rings and it is a telemarketer and I motion to them that I am not here and they promptly hand the phone to me after saying, "She's right here."


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