Why Do My Kids Hate the Home Phone Line?

I made a startling discovery about my 10 year-old and 7 year-old daughters.

They don’t really know how to use the telephone.

Ok, technically, they know how to turn it on and make a call, as my youngest aptly demonstrated when she and a friend cooked up a scheme to call 911.

Yep, there’s nothing like getting this text from your husband while away at a weekend conference: “They were upstairs. I knew it was too quiet, then she comes downstairs and says she called 911. Twenty minutes later, cops arrive. Fun times.”

Now that the police have taught my daughters that calling 911 is no joking matter, I at least have the comfort of knowing that if I were unconscious on the kitchen floor, they would know how to call for help.

Beyond that, they have absolutely no interest in using the phone. They have never wanted to answer it when it rings or make calls or be the voice on our recorded message. When I pass them the phone to chat with their grandmothers, they look at me like I handed them a grenade. I’ve reviewed some rules of phone etiquette with them (with obviously not enough emphasis on the consequences of prank calls!), but they need practise to feel confident about it.

“How are they ever going to get into college if they can’t even use a phone properly?” I lamented to The Hubster after my youngest attempted to call her friend to invite her to a play date, panicked when she got their voicemail and tossed the phone to him.

The next day, I came downstairs and heard my other daughter talking and giggling. Then I heard another little girl’s voice.  That’s strange, I thought, because my daughter and I were the only ones at home. I peered into the playroom. My daughter was standing in front of her dollhouse, her iPod propped up against a doll’s bed, playing Lalaloopsy dolls with her best friend via FaceTime.

It was like a Jetsons episode come true. I realized what I should have known – our regular home phone is becoming obsolete. My girls don’t use it because they don’t need it to communicate with their friends. They’re texting and having virtual play dates on their iPods. Maybe they hate the regular phone because they can’t see the person on the other end.

“Did you know when I was growing up, we had one phone attached to the wall in the kitchen? Every conversation I had with friends had to be done where everyone could hear,” I said

“That’s torture!” my oldest gasped.

“One of the happiest days in my life happened when we got a long cord for the phone so I could talk in the hall.”

I haven’t even told her about the party line we had when we lived on a farm in PEI.  Wait until I tell her I had to write my university essays with a pen and describe what happened if you made a mistake on the second last line of the page at 2 a.m. when you were out of liquid paper the night before it was due.

All of this leads to several thoughts: 1) I am old. 2) Man, I am old. 3) So oldie-old.

Perhaps I am mellowing with my advancing age, but I have decided I am just not going to stress about this anymore. Eventually, my daughters will talk on the phone with confidence….and  as long as neither of them are talking to the police, I’ll be happy.


Li’l Girl Talk

You ask too many questions,” says The Youngest, age 7, at supper as I ask her about her day.

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