Yesterday I stepped out of the office for a minute.

When I returned my coworker asked, “Is your son home today by any chance?”.

“Yes” I replied, “Why do you ask?”

“Well” he answered, “Your phone rang a couple of times so I answered it.  There was heavy breathing for a minute and then someone hung up.”

“That would be Son.” I answered.

I told this coworker about Son when I started my job a week ago.   Since he regularily answers the phones I expected he would eventually make contact with Son.  I warned him, in fact, that Son just recently started talking on the phone to strangers.  This has been a difficult thing for him ~ it started many years ago when he was a toddler.

Remember those cute kiddie phones?  You buy one or two, your child takes one and you pretend to talk on the phone?  Well Dad took Son around the corner in our home and they had one phone while I had the other.  I said Hi Son, this is Mummy.  Chaos reigned supreme after that as Son started became hysterical.  It took a while to figure out that he thought the phone had EATEN me and I was in there!

It took many practises sessions to teach him that my voice on the phone meant I was somewhere else.  We began by talking in the same room where he could see me.  When he was comfortable with that then I moved to an adjacent room where he could still see me.  Next I stood out of his visual range but within a step of being in his sight.  Eventually I could talk from a room down the hall or downstairs.  That grew to where he could talk to me if I was away from the house.

For years though he refused to talk to anyone else on the phone.  Nanna calling?  Nope.  An auntie perhaps?  Forget it.  Sometimes even his father!  When Hubby was serving in Bosnia, or during other military commitments that took him away from home, Son often refused to talk to him.  It was hard on Hubby who missed his kids…that one wouldn’t talk to him (this was long before they were teenagers, remember!).

When Son turned 10 he learned to call one or two people, if he wanted to play with him.  It wasn’t his choice but his overriding desire to hang with a buddy overcame his fear of the phone enough that he could handle a small & straight forward encounter.  If there was any deviation in the conversation however and he would throw the phone at me and get upset.  That took a long time for him not to freeze up although he still does at times (hence the work phone hang-up).  Who, among us, hasn’t dialled a wrong number only to hang up when a strange voice answers?

Next we encouraged Son to call Blockbuster to see if his favourite games or movies were in and to reserve them.  It was a fight at first but he overcame his fear.  The fellows who work at the local store know Son well by know and they always recognize his calls.  There is seldom an introductory “hello” as Son gets straight to the point and states his request as quickly as possible.  Since moving to New Brunswick 18 months ago his ability has grown to where he can ask several different things with ease.  When we visit the store, Son and the clerks have great discussions over recent movies or games.  They know about Son as I told them a long time ago what Son’s abilities are.  The staff are awesome and certainly contributed to Son’s phone capabilities.  Son can now call several relatives, or stores, for information or requests.  In fact, he and his cousin chat up the line for as long as they are allowed ~ something I never imagined in a million years! 

Every now and then though something happens that causes him to freeze again.  I will probably bring him to my workplace and introduce him to the people that he will talk to if he calls again and I can’t get to the phone.   It is much easier when he can put a face to the voice and know a little about the person he is talking to.