Welcome to Chickadee Junction

Welcome to Chickadee Junction

I have birdfeeders outside of my office window. My office is in my home, up on a hill, surrounded by trees. The most frequent avian visitors are the chickadees. When the feeders are empty, they come to the window and let me know. They seem to converge here, and draw my attention out...

I wrote a column about life with children for six years. Now I am the grandmother, and I would like to repost those stories. I will also be adding thoughts and reflections, and if inspired - stories from the now.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

We are quietly reading, talking, doing chores, enjoying ourselves ever so calmly and the phone rings.  Chaos is unleashed.

First we have the race to the phone.  I haven't won, placed or even shown for so long that I don't even bother entering the race anymore.  Whoever wins generally grabs the trophy and cheers,  "Hello!" before the phone has even reached face.  The winner is also twisting and shimmying to shelter his prize from the other contenders.  Contortions make listening next to impossible.

It's happening already.  The phone is occasionally for my daughter.  And remembering my experiences in my teen years, I panic.  Over the next few years more and more calls will be hers.  Conversation times will increase until her neck becomes permanently cricked.  I'll forget how to dial or answer the phone, since the phone will be generally unavailable.

Still, the phone is almost always for me these days.  And my touching the receiver is 'the signal."  Voices are raised.  Arguments from the past month are rehashed.  Loudly.  Songs are sung in competing harmony and rhythm.  Ideas are hatched which need parental permission.  When better to ask mom than when she's not listening.  Then the  questions, "Mom, where do we keep the...?" or "Mom, how do we...?"

Project under construction means tattling will soon commence.  It also means that all writing implements will be needed in the toy room.  If I need to take a message, I have two options.  The first has limited success.  In my most controlled and business-like voice I ask,  "Could you hold a moment?"  I cover the receiver and hiss wildly,  "PEN!  Bring me a pen!"  I get blank looks instead.  "Pencil?  Crayon? Marker?"  None of these words seem to be part of their vocabulary.

Second option is to wing it.  Using a fork tine, I have learned I can scratch information on wax paper.

This leads to the Mommy-martyr complex.  Why can't I just sit back, relax and have a conversation?  Life is not fair.  Oh poor me.  So, I get tough.  One last battle-tattle and I announce,  "On the stairs.  All of you!  Stay there until I hang up this phone!"

The balance has changed.  Semi-calmness results.  And after I have finished my call, I get to listen to the Child-martyr complex.  Life is not fair.  I had to sit, and it wasn't even me.  Poor me.

Mima's Notes
More than anything, writing about the phone let's me realize how quickly technology changes family dynamics.  My youngest got a cell phone while in her early teens.  It is always in her hand.  She texts constantly and is not even vaguely interested in the family land-line, old fashioned telephone that can't go with you.

Now instead of let me answer the phone, the dynamic has become - put that phone down. 

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