By Alice Muschany | Oh, the joy (and challenge) when our little Einstein learned to dial 1-800-GRANDMA |
When our three-year-old grandson began calling our house, my husband and I thought it was adorable. In no time, he’d memorized both our cell phone and work numbers. If we didn’t answer one, he’d dial the other. Before long, our phones rang nonstop, but we considered the calls special.
“Clayton James here,” he’d giggle.
“Why, hello, Clayton James. What are you up to?” It was hard to get aggravated at that Spanky laugh of his.
“I just checkin’ in.”
One morning, he called my office three times before noon.
“Honey, Grandma can’t talk to you now. She has to get back to work. Put Mommy on the phone.”
“I not done yet, Grandma.”
“Let me talk to Mommy.”
Another five minutes passed before he put my daughter on the line.
“Sorry Mom. He’s supposed to ask permission to use the phone.”
When he began calling after we’d crawled into bed, it was no longer amusing. I’d scold him and tell him to hang up so Grandma and Papa could go to sleep. After his mom found out he’d phoned, she had another talk with him.
The calls stopped for a few days, but started up again relentlessly. Even though I hated to do it, I called his mother and complained. That prompted an angry call from Clayton.
“I no talk to you ever again.” Clunk!
His threats didn’t last long. A few hours later, the phone rang. Surprise: it was Clayton.
“Does your mommy know you’re using the phone?”
“No,” he whispered. “I be in the closet.”
I could almost smell his cookie breath through the receiver. A big smile spread across my face, and I decided not to tell on him.
All was well until the phone rang in the middle of the night. Worried the kids had been in a car accident, I picked up on the first ring. Relief flooded over me when it was only Clayton James checkinʹ in, but I scolded him just the same. “Don’t call back. Grandma has to get up early for work.”
The next day when I reported the incident to his mom, she said, “I’m really sorry. I hid our cell phones before bedtime, but Clayton must’ve climbed on the counter and used the house phone. I’ll have another talk with him.”
Just as we sat down for dinner, the phone rang.
A tiny voice threatened, “Now, you listen to me and you listen to me good. I no call you anymore!” Bang!
By the end of the week, he must have forgiven me because he called and said, “I just checkin’ in from under the covers.” Just as I suspected — an undercover phone call.
That next night, the alarm clock glowed 2:20 am as I reached for the ringing phone.
“Clayton? . . . Clayton is that you?” My questions were met with silence.
“Hang up the phone and go to bed,” I barked.
Finally, I heard a squeaky hee-hee-hee, followed by the slamming of the phone.
My husband rolled over and mumbled, “He keeps it up, and he won’t see his fourth birthday.”
As I tried to drift back to sleep, I wondered, Would I be a bad grandma if I changed my number?
The next day, I phoned his mother and ratted on him for calling in the wee hours of the morning. She apologized once again and said she’d moved the phones out of Clayton’s reach. A thorough investigation revealed he’d snuck his brother’s cell out of his school bag.
Her reprimand prompted another call. “I no like you anymore, Grandma.” Thump!
Papa and I placed bets on how long it would be before he called back. We didn’t have to wait long.
Clayton’s calls gradually tapered off as he got busy with kindergarten and sports. Soon, we were calling him more often than he called us.
“Grandma, I’m playing with my friend. I’ll talk to you later.”
I hung up the phone and wondered how I’d ever thought of his calls as annoying. Now when the phone rings and it’s Clayton just checking in, it’s all the more special. Unless, of course, it’s after midnight.
Alice Muschany lives in Wentzville, Missouri. Recently retired, she enjoys writing and photography, and her grandchildren make wonderful (but unwilling) subjects.
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