Daughter takes phone hostage

Tuesday, September 7, 2004

You can't have enough telephones, not in a family with a 12-year-old daughter.

Becca has a telephone in her room, but that hasn't stopped her from kidnapping our kitchen phone and holding it hostage.

The phone rings. Joni or I go to answer it and we're confronted with a beeping kitchen phone base but no phone.

That leads to our constant refrain. "Becca, where is the phone?" It's really not so much a question but a repeated complaint in our household.

We recently bought new portable phones -- one for the kitchen and another for the living room.

Thankfully, the living room phone seems to stay put most of the time. But the kitchen phone seems forever lost.

I'm thinking of putting it under lock and key, or maybe attaching a chain to it that will prevent it from being taken upstairs.

It used to be that telephones didn't intrigue children until they became teenagers. But that's changed.

In our technology age, 12-year-olds already are wired for sound. Becca can't go anywhere with me without borrowing my cell phone for a quick call to mom or a friend, or someone on the moon.

So it's not surprising that when she is at home, she is often cradling a phone.

Thankfully, the new phones we bought come with an all important feature -- the locator button.

Press the button and the missing phone beeps loudly. Follow the sound and you'll find the phone.

That beeping sound often leads us upstairs to Becca's room where we will find the missing phone on her desk right next to her own phone.

What's the point in having two phones side by side? They look nice together, but they're not furniture pieces.

When I was growing up in St. Louis County, our home had only a single telephone. It was a rotary dial phone and the phone cord was permanently wired into the wall. You couldn't carry it around the house if you tried.

My sister used to crawl under the built-in living room desk to try to carry on her phone calls in private. But admittedly it's not the same as being able to carry on a conversation in the privacy of your own room.

Growing up, I don't recall being on the phone that much.

These days with cell phones, I'm on the phone a lot. But back then there was no thought that a house needed more than one phone.

Growing up, I spent little time on the telephone. It was grand central station in the living room. I do remember mom talking on the phone. She often had to snap her fingers because her children were acting up while she was trying to carry on a phone conversation.

At any rate, we managed to survive for years with just a single black telephone.

Today, my wife, kids and even our dog wouldn't think of trying to survive with a single telephone.

In our fast-paced society, it's only a matter of time until new homes start putting a telephone in every room.

But that still won't mean that there will be a phone available when you need it, not if you have preteens or teenagers.

If the situation gets too bad, I could always install a pay phone in our kitchen. That way Becca would need money to use the kitchen phone. She also couldn't walk off with that phone.

Of course, even that won't prevent you from getting a busy signal because your child is in the constant conversation mode. But at least your life won't be put on hold while you search for the phone.

Mark Bliss is a staff writer for the Southeast Missourian.

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