Today, as I got out of the shower the house phone rang. I didn’t exactly rush to answer it because nobody calls on the house phone that I want to talk to. In fact, I’ve wondered why I continue to keep a house phone.
I guess I am anticipating that if I keep the house phone for the telemarketers, credit card solicitors, and the political surveyors to call, then they won’t get my cell phone number.
When the phone rings, I usually let the answering machine screen the calls, but if I’m near the phone, I will glance at the Caller ID. As I walked over to the phone to check the Caller ID, I noticed that Kaleb exited the room. Then, when I looked at the Caller ID it said “Police Department.”
Since the Police Department was calling my house, I thought I better answer the phone. My conversation with the Police Department went something like this:
Police Department: “Is everything OK?”
Me: “Yes, why?”
Police Department: “Well, Kaleb called 911.”
Me: “You know my child’s name?”
Police Department: “He called 911 twice.”
Me: “I’m sorry. I’ll talk to him about it and make sure he doesn’t do it again. But everything is fine here.”
The police dispatcher was very polite and seemed understanding enough. It’s probably not the first 911 inquiry call she had received from a child.
Then, I realized why Kaleb had slinked out of the room when the phone rang. So I called him back in to talk to him about not calling 911 as I promised the dispatcher I would.
So, as I proceeded to tell him don’t call 911, it occurred to me that I’m telling him not to do what I and the school, the fire department, the police department, billboards everywhere, public service announcements on television, and our whole society have worked so hard to teach him to do—CALL 911!
I was in quite a quandary trying to explain to him why shouldn’t call 911 when the whole world is telling him he should. I couldn’t really tell him not to call 911. He needs to know, CALL 911, but…
So, I attempted to identify under what conditions and circumstances it was okay for him to call 911 and our conversation went something like this:
Me: “First of all, don’t call 911 if there’s a pretend emergency. Don’t under any circumstances whatsoever call 911 if there’s not a real emergency. If there is a real emergency, then that is when you should call 911.”
Kaleb: “What’s a real emergency?”
Me: “If somebody in our family gets sick or hurt, then call 911. No, wait a minute, I take that back. Don’t call 911 every time one of you fall down and hurt yourself or you get a tummy ache. In fact, don’t call 911 if you or Kenzie are sick or hurt. Poppy will be the one to call 911. Just call them if Poppy is hurt. But don’t call them unless I’m hurt real bad.”
Kaleb: “When are you hurt real bad?”
Me: “Well, so much that I can’t call them. Let’s see, if I’m laying unconscious in a pool of blood, then you can call 911.”
Then Kenzie came in the room and entered into the conversation:
Kenzie: “What about a fire?”
Me: “If the house is on fire, don’t call 911. Just get out of the house! In fact, if the house is on fire, get out of the house and run over to the neighbor’s house and let them call 911.”
Kaleb: “What if a robber breaks into the house?”
Me: “If there’s a robber breaking into the house, Poppy will call 911. And if the robber gets passed me, then go hide where he can’t find you.”
Me, again: “Really, children, don’t call 911 at all unless you ask me first. Okay?”
As you can see, for all the effort we put into teaching the children to call 911, the opportunities are quite limited for them to get to do so.
Then, shouldn’t they at least get a couple of practice calls?