In the old days, using the telephone was a privilege. For kids today, it's synoymous with breathing ...
"Hello, Mommy?" the husky voice of my nearly seven-year-old booms through the earpiece in my cell phone. "What are you doing?"
"Working, Sweetie," I say through clenched teeth.
"When will you be home?" she asks – her tone demanding a quick and honest answer.
"I'll be leaving in about fifteen minutes, so I'll be home in about thirty minutes," I say trying to multi-task as I type away on my computer.
"What are you doing?" she says again, sounding annoyed like an adult caller who has detected the sound of my fingers hitting the keys.
"Writing," I say.
"Is thirty minutes a long time?" she asks sounding more contrite.
"No, it's about as long as one of your programs on the Disney Channel," I say quickly, internally applauding myself for coming up with such a good answer.
"Okay, I'll see you soon," she says.
"I love you," I say as my hands continue their work at the keyboard and my eyes focus on the computer screen.
"I love you too," she says.
This ritual has now become an everyday event. My daughter has my cell phone number memorized. This is a good thing. It's about safety.
But I never dreamed she would use it, let alone to guilt me about my late nights at the office. And it's not just these calls. Sometimes she calls me in the afternoon just to talk.
"Hi Mommy," she says with a voice that screams I'm a two-pack-a-day smoker. "What are you doing?"
"Working," I say. I consider telling her that I'm on deadline, but then I know that will lead into a long conversation about what the word deadline means.
"My friend Richard lost a tooth today. It was really cool," she says with a little-girl chuckle. "When am I going to lose more teeth?"
These questions and others – like "Who are God's parents?" – are not easily answered in a short phone call.
Recently, her six-year-old cousin got a telephone in her room. And it's not just any phone; it's a pink princess phone This has now sparked a desire for my daughter to have the same.
I don't think I had a phone in my room until I was about sixteen, and even then it was restricted to certain hours and I had to maintain good grades.
It was something I had never even considered for a seven-year-old. But I made a deal with her. I told her that if she could learn to answer the telephone properly and take messages, I would consider it.
Usually she answers the phone by addressing the person by name thanks to the magic of caller I.D.
I told her from now on she needs to answer with our last name, the word residence and then say her name followed by the word speaking.
So far, she's doing pretty well, so I'm afraid at some point I may have to cough up the pink princess phone.
I'm sure if I do allow a phone in her room the daily calls will increase. Imagine what will happen when she gets a cell phone.