Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Telephonic Invasion and Chick Fights

I have never been much for talking on the phone. I think I inherited that quality from my dad, who never liked to talk on the phone either. Don't get me wrong, I will talk if someone else calls me and be perfectly happy about it, but I am terrible about calling other people. I could blame it on the children and say that I am too busy and there isn't much quiet time to talk on the phone, but I don't think I called that much when I was a teenager either. I talked a lot as a teen, but usually when someone else called me, as I remember it. When I called someone else, I somehow took it personally if they couldn't talk, almost like a rejection. Well, maybe not so much that as I felt embarrassed that I had bothered them. So, from then on, I was afraid to call for fear I would be intruding. I think it's also because I get excited to talk to someone and then if they aren't there or can't talk, I feel a let-down. I don't even like making business related calls. It makes me uncomfortable. I think the reason for that is that I get tongue-tied. I know what I want to say, but once I am put on the spot, I freeze and can't think of the words I had rehearsed. Yes...I sometimes rehearse what I am going to say...don't laugh. I often hang up, only to recall something that I had meant to remark or query, but had forgotten. I am one of the few people that would prefer speaking to a machine, pressing numbers to make choices, or do as much as I can online and with email!

I wish I wasn't this way. I think it makes people upset with me for not calling them and as a result, I wonder if I have lost friends or failed to make friends.

So, for that reason, I don't talk on the phone much. Mostly just to Chris, who calls me several times a day. I talk to my mother maybe once a week (she and my brother like to text me as a rule). Other than that, maybe a few random calls here and there, but nothing regularly and nothing much to speak of. My phone is pretty quiet. The most common ringtone I hear, by far, is the one I assigned to Chris. Sounds sad, but I have resigned myself to it. When I delivered newspapers, I would have nightly chats via a hands-free attachment to my cell phone with a friend who also delivered papers. It was easy to carry on a conversation doing something as menial as flinging papers, there were no children to interrupt, and it kept us both awake. But, after she quit (and me too, not long after), my phone usage went back to sporadic. It makes for cheap cell phone bills! My husband, however, is the exact opposite. He will keep calling people until he finds someone available to talk when he's in a loquacious mood. He spends most of his day with his phone pressed to his ear. When we were first married and I arrived in Germany, where he was stationed, he warned me to use the phone sparingly. They charge per click--which I think was every 6 seconds, if I remember right--even for local calls. Turned out, he was the one to worry about. Most of the calls on the phone bill were his.

All that background aside, I was pleasantly surprised to receive several phone calls in the last couple of days. I had forgotten that I had that ringtone on my phone! Ha, ha. We are hosting a send-off party for Chris' foster parents, who will be moving to Canada later this year to begin their missionary work. We had sent out invitations, with an RSVP plea so we can ascertain whether to expect a few people or hundreds. I had three calls about their party. Then my friend from the newspaper, whom I mentioned in the previous paragraph and had not talked to for some time, called. We spoke for over 45 minutes. We likely would have chatted longer, had my doorbell not interrupted and caused me to have to excuse myself. Then today, Kimmy's friend's father (who is also their gym teacher) returned a call that I had made to his wife regarding Kimmy's upcoming birthday party. That was an interesting call because, while I have met him a couple of times, I was not aware of the fact that he and I had attended the same middle school and high school. So we chatted a bit. The girls were VERY interested in seeing his picture in my yearbook and Arrena has been carrying it around, looking dumbfounded, ever since. I think it's fun when I run across someone I knew long ago or at least crossed paths with. It's amusing to see their picture and know where they came from. I always feel that when people meet me now, they are missing much of the picture, by not knowing who I have been, if that makes any sense.

Anyways, five different callers may not be a big deal for some, but for me it was big-time busy because I usually don't receive that many calls in five MONTHS! And that is in addition to the calls I made for Kimmy birthday and speaking with Arrena's friend's mom about an upcoming sleepover. I feel all talked out now! At least when I was on the phone with my friend, I multi-tasked, doing dishes and cleaning the kitchen, dining room, and my bedroom while I was on the phone. Should have done that during the other calls as well... (Ugh!)

This afternoon, I took the kids to the splash park. For those of you who DON'T know what that is, it's a park with lots of "sprinkler" or fountain-type protrusions that spray the kids with water. My kids love it. There was a bench nearby that had some personal belongings on one end, so I sat on the other end and played solitaire on my phone and watched the kids. Pretty soon, two teenage girls, one teenage boy, and a little girl came back to the bench and I assumed the belongings were theirs. They had been sitting there next to me for a little while and I had paid them no mind until I felt a jolt of the bench. It startled me and I looked up and the two teenage girls had leapt to their feet and had each other in a headlock in front of me. At first, I was dumbfounded as to what was going on. It was just a struggling mass of bodies and I was trying to determine if someone was being assaulted or robbed and if I should step in to assist someone. When one raised her head, I finally figured out that it was the two girls and they were involved in a cat fight. One threw the other down hard on the concrete and I decided that it was time to deliver a brief motherly lecture. I lowered my phone and said, "Y'all need to take this somewhere else, away from all these children!" To my surprise, they acquiesced. They moved off over by the park building in the grass about 100 yards away and proceeded to pummel each other. The little girl was trying to call her mom, but couldn't reach her. Another mother nearby remarked to me, incredulous (and I suspect somewhat appalled), "They are really fighting over there." I just shrugged and said, "At least they went over there."

I used to be the type that minded my own business. I never spoke up, I kept to myself. And I still felt young enough, not to be in a position of authority over other young people. But, I am now of the mindset that it "takes a village to raise a child." In a better world, parents would teach their children to behave, but since that obviously ISN'T the case, I have no qualms anymore about teaching their children myself. Even if they happen to be standing right there. If I, or someone like me, doesn't, who will? Obviously not their parents--and we end up with a very rude and selfish generation.

For example, one day I was waiting for my girls to get out of school and Billy was playing in the sand with some of the other preschool-aged children whose parents were also waiting for older siblings. A couple of the children started to throw sand, which is all the invitation that Billy needs before his thin restraint cracks and he starts grabbing handfuls. None of the parents were making a move to intervene, so I stalked over, snatched Billy up by the arm and scolded the other children, "No throwing sand!" Then I removed Billy from the instigators.

Just a couple of weeks ago, the kids and I were at the YMCA outdoor water park. I was holding Billy and some little boy came by us, way too close, and was thrashing about and hit me hard in the mouth. He didn't mean to, but he was being careless and I was mad. So, I stopped him and said, "You need to watch what you're doing! You just hit me!" He apologized and went away.

So, if you are a parent of one of these holy terrors, don't be surprised or offended if you overhear me telling your child to excuse themselves when they push past us at the zoo or act rudely in any situation which confronts me. My children get the same lecture.

Okay, that gets me all worked up, so I'll close with a picture of Arrena's cactus garden that she made this week. Maybe it will have a calming effect.

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