My Family (a long time ago)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


If you are a parent of teenagers, you know how hard it can be to get in touch with your kids when they’re not at home. Even with cell phones it can be difficult at times to just have a brief interaction. Three of us Dads with kids between the ages of fifteen and nineteen were talking about this at work one day last week. We’ve each had instances where we needed to get in touch with our kids and were unsuccessful. Part of the reason we got cell phones for our kids was so that we could get in touch with them and they could get in touch with us.

We all agreed on one thing, which is that our kids will never answer a phone call from us. I’ve wanted to talk to my kids quickly about something and didn’t want to text back and forth, so I called them. Seems simple, right? Have a quick conversation so everyone is on the same page and you’re done in, oh, 30 seconds. Well, it isn’t so simple, because they very rarely answer the call. I think the three of us all got the same excuse when this happened: “I had it on silent.” When I’m out somewhere, like at a mall, I hear phones ringing everywhere, and it’s not all the parents with the latest, coolest ring tones, so how come all our kids have their phones on silent?

Here’s what I consider somewhat amusing. You can call your kids five times and they won’t answer their phone (possibly because after the second call they’re ticked off), but text them and they get right back to you. At least mine do. One of the other Dads said his kids don’t always get back to him via text either. When he talked to them about it, their excuse was that their phone was on one floor of the house they were at, and they were on another floor. Because his kids never even go to the bathroom without their cell phone (OK, so that is a slight exaggeration), he wasn’t buying it. Another time he was told that their phone had died and they didn’t have a charger with them. The third Dad said he was told by his son that his friend’s house doesn’t get any reception on his phone, so he never got the text until he left. I guess those last two are possible, but we all agreed they were just excuses.

I’m not down on my kids or other kids for making up excuses for not wanting to talk to their parents. Most of the time it will probably mean the fun is over, or they forgot to do something, or something else they don’t want to hear. I know, because I remember when I was a teenager. The worst thing to happen was to be at someone’s house with a group of friends hanging out and having a blast, and the Mom would walk in and tell one of us that our Mom was on the phone. If it was my Mom, I would immediately start thinking about what I could have forgotten to do or if I was in trouble for something. Most always the call meant that person had to go home, which was bad enough, but then they had to take the razzing from the guys about “running home to Mommy.”  

We didn’t have to make up excuses back then because we had built in excuses, back in the days before technology made our lives “easier”. Here are a few of them:
  • There was no call waiting back in the 70’s, so if someone was on the phone at your friend’s house, your Mom couldn’t get through. You weren’t telling a lie if you told your Mom, “Mrs. Smith was on the phone the whole time I was there!” Of course, sometimes we just took the phone off the hook so we wouldn’t be disturbed.
  • There weren’t answering machines, caller ID or voice mail back then either, so if we didn’t answer the phone there was no way to know who called. Saying “I didn’t know you called” was not a lie. Without these modern conveniences, it was like the phone call never happened.
  • When we were out and about, the only way to call home was to use a pay phone. However, pay phones weren’t on every corner and sometimes they were broken. So, we weren’t telling a lie if we said, “I couldn’t find a pay phone.” Not that we looked too hard, but that’s a different story.
  • Once we had our licenses, saying that whoever was driving wouldn’t stop for you to make a call might work once or twice, but that’s about it. What’s that quote: “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me”?
If you can’t get in touch with your kids, it isn’t something new for parents. It’s been going on for decades. Teenagers have never liked getting phone calls from their parents. It’s just that as the technology has evolved, so have the excuses.

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