Liz Fraser, 18th November 2009 (hand model: Phoebe!)
A change has happened in our house, of the unwelcome kind. It’s happened gradually over the last 3 months – in fact, since the day my eldest started secondary school.
The change involves the phone.
Once was a time, oh so long ago in those heady days of mid 2009, when the phone would ring maybe once or twice a day, I’d let it ring a few times to make it appear less like I’ve been staring at it and willing it to ring all day, so desperate am I for some adult conversation. I would then answer it, and proceed to have a conversation with someone who wanted to speak with me. A car insurance salesman, for example, or a time-delayed lady in Bombay offering cheaper mobile phone rates. Yes, I’m that popular.
But not so any more. Now the phone has been taken over. Handset 1 has vanished from its place in the kitchen, Handset 2 been removed from its stand in the living room, and both are now manned, 24/7 by little hands. Handset 3 is still by my bed, but I feel its days are numbered too.
If the phone rings now, this is what happens: I shout: “Where the hell is the bloody phone??! Emily!”
Almost simultaneously, my daughter shouts from upstairs: “I’ll get it! It’s for me!”
And it is. ALWAYS. I retreat to the kitchen, feeling dejected.
What’s even more irritating than the fact that 5000% more people want to speak to my child than want to speak to me, is that she has just spent the last 8 hours at school talking to the very same people who then phone her up. (Usually on a mobile, I’ve noticed when 1471-ing, but that’s a gripe for another day…) Me, I’ve been alone in a silent house all day – I need conversation like a BLT needs lettuce. And bacon. And tomato…Talk to ME!
And I mean, what do they even have to SAY to each other?? That’s what gets me. If it were a matter of life or death, or even mildly death-like symptoms, I’d be cool with it. Of course they should spread such news. But it’s not. It’s all: Hey Becca, you know that thing we’ve just spent the whole of the walk home talking about – you want to talk about it some more? Um….OK then.
I notice also that on the rare occasion I do get to the handset before my children, like when I chain them to a radiator or lock them in the attic, the high-pitched speaker on the other end never ever says ‘Hello Liz, sorry to bother you…’ or even ‘Hello, could I please speak to…’ [insert Child A, Child B or Child C]. No, I get a blunt, demanding, ‘Hi. Is Emily there?’
Hello?? Helloooo??! Is Emily there? Well yes, oddly enough, as it’s 6.58am and this is Emily’s house, I’m guessing she is here. Let me just interrupt whatever it was I was just doing, like SLEEPING, and go and get her for you, shall I? Then you can impart the utterly unimportant information to her that apparently cannot possibly wait until you see her in ONE HOUR, while simultaneously wasting some more of your mum’s money and giving me crow’s feet.
And that’s not all. Oh no. If it’s not phone conversations that don’t need conversing, it’s emails that don’t need mailing. Classic examples of this include ‘Hey. How are you?’ [Answer is presumably: rather similar to how I was six minutes ago when we last spoke.] Or, my favourite: ‘Do you want to go on StarDoll so we can chat?’
Hang on a tick: you’re now having a conversation via email, asking if someone would like to go online, in order to have a conversation….via web chat.
The utter craziness of this whole communication thing is completely lost on my daughters, who are in that bizarre stage of childhood where they just want to chat to their mates. By any means. All the time.
I know this. I remember what it was like in the Precambrian era of The Phone In The Hall. It’s a very normal stage of growing up, so I’m trying to be reasonably cool about it. But I’m tellin’ ya, I’m getting close to my limit, and I pity the next child who wakes me up to ask me to tell Emily that she’s going to be wearing her hair in bunches today – WOW! No WAY! News flash! God, I’m so glad you called! Seriously, that kid is SO going to get an earful.
Well, if it’s this hard to get to a phone these days, I might as well make the most of it when I get the chance, no?