I’m not a person who spends a lot of time talking on the phone. I don’t get a lot of calls, and I don’t make a lot of calls. I talk to Will multiple times a day, but we are efficient and rarely chat for more than a few minutes. I’m learning though, that this limited phone use has its downside: my boys have no idea how to use the phone. I mean none.
The other day, little Will answered the home phone, which rings about once a week, at the most.
“Hello,” he said, “May I ask who’s calling?”
We counseled him about maybe letting the caller speak before requesting they identify themselves.
Then on Tuesday Nate called me from an unknown number. He had ridden to swim practice with my ever-faithful carpool buddy, but it wasn’t her number and he should’ve been there for about a half hour at that point.
When I answered, he yelled into my ear, “MOM!”
“Hey buddy,” I said, eager to hear the urgent news.
“MOM?!?” he yelled again. There was lots of background noise.
“What’s up, Nate?” I yelled back.
“NATE STOP SAYING MOM! And tell me what’s going on!”
“Oh, are you bringing the entry form for that meet?”
Holy cow I’ve failed. What kind of a mother so neglects phone etiquette that this is the angst ridden conversation I have about a swim meet entry form? So later we talked about how that exchange could’ve gone better.
But I guess it didn’t sink in because less than twenty-four hours later I got another call, from another number I didn’t know. And I got the call slope side with Sam, while Will and Nate were skiing harder runs with friends.
The caller was screaming and crying so hysterically that I couldn’t make out any communication at all. Yet I was certain that the caller was Nate. After quite a few seconds had passed, and I asked with increasing desperation, “Nate, where are you?” I did finally understand three words: double. black. diamond.
It ended up that the whole crew they were skiing with went down a double black diamond (which may sound worse than it was — a Ski Liberty in PA double black and an Alta in UT double black are in no way congruent). But regardless, Nate fell, got freaked out and slid down the mountain. His brother was so far ahead of him at that point that after waiting at the bottom he decided to ride the lift up and ski down to check on him. In that window of Nate’s panic, Marco from ski patrol came by and offered to let Nate use his cell phone, which of course, was very kind, at least in theory. In reality it took about ten years off my life.
On the way home we covered all kinds of potential phone calls. We even role played what a conversation post-car accident should sound like. Begin with assurances that you are in fact fine!
I’m hoping we are making progress, but parenting is hard work. It’s an all day, every day job. I love it with my whole heart, but sometimes the gravity of it is freshly daunting. I do not have a newborn at home. My little mouths feed themselves. They don’t require minute by minute attention for their very survival, but the responsibility is still weighty. Even in the midst of a magical afternoon spent skiing, there are vital lessons to convey.
I’m reminded once again of one of my all-time favorite verses: “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” Hebrews 12:11.
Peace on the phone? With Nate? Later on. Yes. I’m counting on it!