When the kids were living at home, we never picked up the phone. Ever. It wasn’t even a screening situation, we just didn’t pick up. Now that they’re gone, we screen, but only because we’re hoping it’s one of them calling. (As if)
Marital discord followed this shift in phone behavior. When one of the kids finally called, we got on the phone together. Big mistake. She hated it when I interrupted to make boy-centric cracks. I hated having to hold the reciever away from my ear when she spoke. Bickering and changes in sleeping arrangements followed.
As mature parents do, we moved on to a new communication modality, talking to the caller separately, one after the other. The problem here was that the first one to the phone got an animated conversation, fresh and full of detail. The second one got Carl from “Sling Blade”, begrudgingly repeating the same details in monotone, or, worse, got blown off entirely with “I gotta go. Mom will tell you everything.”
So, I’m done. No more racing across the house to get to the phone first. No more wrestling my partner for the receiver. From now on, I’m going with covert calling. Shut the office door. Dial up the offspring and have a lengthy and fulfilling conversation that I can gloat about over dinner.
Now all I have to do is figure out a way to get the kids to pick up…