Perpetual Plan B

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Teaching Small Children to Use the Telephone

I just realized that Austin is five and he doesn't know how to use the phone. At all.

He can't even answer it. He doesn't know how.

This might be why I haven't even attempted to teach him.

Situation #1:

When Morgan was little, around 4, I taught her how to use the phone, including our phone number.

One night, she and Ally spent the night at Hal's parents' house for the first time. I was worried that they wouldn't do well, but Hal's mom and dad never did call and say they were having trouble, like I asked them to.

When the girls did come home the next day, Morgan was highly traumatized. I asked her why she didn't have Grandma call us to come get her and Ally.

She said, "She wouldn't call and I kept trying to call you like you taught me but a mean lady kept coming on the phone and wouldn't let me talk to you."

I started to get really upset, thinking about my poor little girl and the mean lady on the phone, and wondering who the mean lady was.

I asked Morgan, "What did the lady say to you?"

She said, "She kept telling me my call could not be completed as dialed."

(Isn't that sad? Hal's parents live far enough away from us that it was long distance. Morgan hadn't learned that part yet.)

Situation #2:

When Ally was about 4, I had seen a story on the news where a four year old had saved his mom's life by dialing 9-1-1.

Well, I was pretty sure I wanted to be able to be saved too, in case I had a heart attack or something, so I also taught Ally about 9-1-1. (I think I was going to wait a while before trying to teach her our phone number because of Morgan's experience.)

Anyway, we practiced it a little bit and I kept emphasizing the fact that it was only in case of emergency, like if I couldn't talk or help her.

Well one day I was on the computer downstairs and Ally was working on a little craft project. I was going to get her a few things for it when I was finished with the scrapbook page I was working on. She came down the stairs, talking to someone on the phone. I thought that was strange because I didn't hear it ring. She was having an actual conversation and was getting quite frustrated with whoever it was. I vaguely remembered her saying something about a box. Finally she hung up. I wondered if it was my mom so I was going to call her back when I was done on the computer.

A minute later the phone rang and I picked it up. It was the 9-1-1 operator.

She said, "Ma'am, your daughter called us and I just needed to call back and make sure everything is okay there."

I said, "Oh my goodness, I'm so sorry. I just taught her about calling 9-1-1, in case of emergency, last week."

The lady said, "Well, I just wanted you to know that she was asking me for a box and kept saying she needed the box and it was an emergency and that you couldn't help her. I asked her to let me talk to you and she wouldn't let me. By law I have to call back and make sure everything's okay or I'll have to send the police to your house to check on you."

I was so embarrassed and it was starting to make sense. I remembered that Ally kept saying, "No, you can't." so that must have been when she was asking to talk to me.

I apologized profusely to the lady and asked if I needed to pay for anything. She said no, but sternly reminded me that if we tied up the line during an actual emergency someone else wouldn't get the help they needed in time.

Ally and I then had a long conversation about what a real emergency is.

(Funny, Austin has trouble with that too. I have low blood sugar, so I keep cans of Slim Fast in the car in case I need something fast. I call them "emergency" drinks. He's had lots of emergencies when I haven't been looking. I've found the empty cans.)

Anyway, that is why I'm a little hesitant to teach Austin about using the phone. But, he is five now and in kindergarten so it's about time.

Besides that, I'm getting really tired of answering the phone every time when just he and I are home. I think it's about time he makes himself useful.


The Gathering Place said...

Good luck on your decision. It seems like once they know how, they think they have to be on the phone all the time.

Katie said...

Haha - you have the funniest kid stories! I love them!

Would you want to make scones on Thursday? Wednesday or Friday would work as well, I am available any time after 12:30.

Royce said...

Ruth did that same thing when she was 3 or 4 years old, only she KEPT calling 911, just to hear what they would say. When she brought the phone to me "because the lady told her to", she reamed me out good! Also, Wes had a little friend sleep over one night when they were about 5 and his friend was trying to call his mom late at night, using the only phone in our house that happened to be of the old rotary dial kind, and he didn't have a clue how to use it. Just when IS a good age to teach them. Another story on Ruth, I kept trying to get her to ask who it is (before caller ID), and once when I was hollering that to her as just as she was about to answer it, instead of saying 'hello', she yelled 'who it is?'
Okay, enough of my phone stories.