The Phone Problem

Story has always been a social child who tried her best to make her own social calendar, inviting others to our house (once a homeless man) and inviting herself to others’ houses. I have finally succeeded in gaining control of her social calendar, but now we have a new problem: the phone. She has begged for her own phone relentlessly since last year (first grade), when her buddy got his own. Well, that’s not happening for quite some time yet, so she’s done the next best thing: handed out my phone number.

For the most part, it’s been okay. Her friends call occasionally at decent hours. Recently, however, one child has taken advantage of the situation and has used my phone number to alleviate his boredom.

For example, one day he called two times before Story even got off the bus from school, and she lives two minutes from the school. He left a polite message asking for Story to call him back. Sure, no problem! I told Story when she got home, and she gave him a call. They talked until it was time for Story to go to dance class. She told him she would be in dance for the next hour and that she’d talk to him later. He took the later part seriously — but not much later. With twenty minutes to go, he began calling. I didn’t answer because I knew who it was and I’d just relay the message to Story. No need to talk to the kid. But then he called again. And again. And again. And again. He called eleven times and left three hangup messages within that twenty minutes.

I was ringtone crazy by the time I picked up Story. So, why not just turn it on silent and keep the peace, you ask. I would but my business line also rings through to this phone, so I can’t risk missing a call. I may have taken my frustration out on Story a bit and told her that she needs to let her friends know to leave one message and not call several times. Story returned his call and immediately said, “Bro, why are you calling me so many times? Mom said you drove her nuts.” Okay, so not the most polite way to handle it, but I figured he got the message.

Not so much. He called again the next day, this time starting a few minutes after 9:00 p.m. It was Friday, so Story was up, but still. Story was playing elsewhere in the house so she didn’t make it to the phone in time to answer. She didn’t want to interrupt her game so she didn’t call him back. This went on for another four calls until I made Story call him back. I didn’t let her talk for but a few minutes since it was late, and she told him, rather harshly, to stop calling her all the time and that he shouldn’t be calling so late. He called again the next day.

I don’t know what to do. I suppose I could answer the next call, lay out the rules, and block his number if he doesn’t follow them. That seems rude though. He’s just a second-grader, after all. But still! Story suggested I just get her a phone so it won’t be a problem. No way, kid. I don’t know his mom, so that would be a very awkward conversation.

And this is just one kid. She has several others calling my phone all the time, though not nearly as often as this example. What’s a modern mom to do, other than caving and getting another line? If you have suggestions, I’d love to hear them!