When my kids got old enough and I could start to leave them home alone for short periods of time (maybe around 9 or 10 years old), I used to tell them not to answer the door to anyone and to only answer the phone when the call display was my cell phone number or their dads home or cell phone number.
I felt that I was being a responsible parent and ensuring their safety. And they followed my instructions, right up until about 2 years ago. That’s when something happened that made me question my call screening direction.
I forgot my cell phone at work one day. I only work about 20 minutes from home so I decided to go back and get it after supper. It was winter time.
As usual, I told the kids not to answer the door or the phone unless it was me or their dad. And off I went.
My drive to work includes a fairly long rural stretch of road and it was winter so there was snow and ice. And it was dark.
The car in front of me was going too fast, slid and almost spun out. Don’t worry, he avoided the ditch and we didn’t collide but it was very close and it made me think.
What if an accident did occur and I needed to call my kids? I didn’t have my cell phone and, if I borrowed one, they wouldn’t pick up because they wouldn’t recognize the number. The only number other than mine that they would pick up was their dads but what if I couldn’t reach him? This realization hit me like a ton of bricks, I almost started to panic.
I continued on to get my phone and when I came home, I immediately called the kids down and changed my instructions. I told them to start answering the phone no matter what the number was (except for 1-800 numbers, I think I’m pretty safe ignoring those). I talked to them about what to say if someone asked for a parent (they are in the bathroom or shower), or if someone was selling something or asked for any personal information. I also taught them that it is okay to hang up the phone if the person was not nice or if they ever felt uncomfortable.
To this day, I continue to follow my own rule. I answer every phone call.
I do wind up hanging up on a lot of people – – Mark’s Duct Cleaning, telemarketers, recorded sales messages, donation seekers – – as politely as I can.
But I still pick up because what if, one day, my boyfriend, my mom or one of my kids was in an emergency situation and the only phone available was at “Fred’s Windows and Doors” across the street?
What if I didn’t pick up?
Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti at FreeDigitalPhotos.net