Thursday, October 28, 2010

Telephone Manners

Any parent will know that, the moment s/he picks up the phone, his/her child immediately sets upon them with ever plea or complaint imaginable.  Or maybe this just happens in my house.  I tell Matthew that I'll be on the phone for a few minutes and, no sooner have I said hello than the little conniver comes over to see me and starts asking for things:  "can I have a treat?"  "can I watch tv?"  "can I please look at the piece of crystal that you inherited from your grandmother?"  "how come you haven't read to me at all today - can we read a story?"  Though the answer to any of these questions has been a resounding no 99% of the time, he clearly remembers the other one percent of the time when I've caved, in order to have him go away and leave me to my phonecall.  Things improved for quite a long time, but recently he's been back to asking things again most of the times that I'm on the phone.

The pattern is the same:  I'm on the phone; he asks a question; I absently shake my head; he asks again, this time with a little more tone to it; I shake my head again, give him a hard look, and this time point to the phone, clearly trying to say without words what should be obvious (I might also, at this point, hold a finger up in the air to indicate that I'll just be a minute); he harrumphs and asks again a few seconds later, maybe adding a foot stamp to get my attention; I cover up the mouthpiece and say (again stating the obvious) that I'm on the phone and could he please wait.  Sometimes at this point he goes away, and always with an exasperated grunt; at other times, things just escalate and start to get nasty...on both of our sides...until I end up hanging up the phone in a temper that matches his.

On Monday, Matthew found an old lint brush designed for removing fuzzes from clothing.  It's the old fashioned kind that snaps shut in the middle and looks surprisingly like a cell phone.  At one point on Monday morning, I approached Matthew from behind and asked him a question.  He whirled around, holding his 'cell phone' to his ear, gave me an exasperated look, and held one finger in the air.  Then he proceeded to continue the conversation with his imaginary friend, Bambi (who is boy one day, squirrel the next, and so on).  For the better part of the day, that boy carried around his new treasure and, every time I asked him to do something, he'd respond with his new phone tricks.  The more assertive I got with my request-turned-demand, the more impatiently he excused himself from his telephone conversation in order to tell me, in no uncertain terms, that I'd have to wait a minute because he was on an important call.  Scariest thing was that, in his every move, I saw an echo of my own - the little *#$% learned every one of those moves from me!  Lesson learned.



  1. oh i love that first picture! cracks me up!

  2. That's really funny! The pictures are too!

    But I hear you on the phone thing. My kids are the same way. One parenting book I read actually said that this is a major when it comes to determining which things are ones you should make a big deal of and which you shouldn't. When he explained his rationale, I actually completely agreed with him and vowed to change how things went in our house when I was on the phone. Before I could remember his suggestions for consequences for this behaviour, Imagine's bankruptcy happened (the day after I finished the book) and it was out the window. My kids are particularly persistent about asking for things or are particularly loud, fighting or screaming in the background when it is an important call such as a social worker or work related. I haven't figured out how to fix it. If you figure it out, let me know.

  3. Thanks for the good laugh! Too funny (when it is not your own child!)
    Once anyone figures out how to keep their children from persistently asking for things, and worse fighting while on the phone, please let me know :). For the time being, I occasionally resort to locking myself in the bathroom!

  4. I'm so glad I'm not the only one with this problem! Yeah, I've tried locking myself in the bathroom, too, Kristin, only to have Matthew lie down on the floor and start rhythmically (sp?) kicking - let me tell you, that was more deafening than pretty much anything else!

    Sharla, maybe you should get back to that book you were reading, and give us all a lesson in how to handle this issue.



  5. That is why it is important that good telephone manners must be practiced at home because children can see, hear and apply what they have learned from their parents. So, for parents who want to set a good example to their kids, exposing them to proper telephone etiquette is a must. Thanks for sharing this enlightening experience.