Snippet – hello! Is anybody there?

My son has never used the phone willingly. During the last few years we have made strenuous efforts to help him talk to familiar relatives on the phone, but to date our success has been limited. During this same period we have tried to de-sensitize both of them to the horror of headphones, but with similarly disappointing results. We have tried any number of strategies such as using the 'speaker' function, but all to no avail. Overall there appears to be general disinterest in talking to an invisible person somewhere out in the ether.

It is an irksome overhang of past deamons to me, as during their initial evaluations neither was able to name or identify a telephone, a microscope nor any number of everyday household items. It was a sharp pang of reality injected into my cotton wool world.

When the phone rings I find myself instantly deluged in words from a very fast speaking young woman. It's a monologue of reasons why she must speak to my son. She talks as if she has already made a list of reasons why I might refuse and has come up with her own counter arguments in advance. As she rattles them off, I wander through the house to seek him out, since I am unable to get a word in edgeways. When I find him I shield the voice piece, attract his attention, wait for his attention and explain, “your friend Felicity is on the phone, she wants to speak to you,” and hold out the receiver to him near his right hand. He takes the phone in a limp hand, slithers off the bed to perch like a three legged stool on the carpet, “hi Felicity, it's me,” he says with a casual air that matches his liquefied body as he rolls over, a cat in the sunshine. I hover for a few minutes but it seems impolite to remain and ear wig. As I leave, I note that she uses a great many words and he uses one or two in response, at lengthy intervals.

I check on his progress every five minutes or so, mainly to prevent the telephone being abandoned in some random place never to see the light of day again. He wanders from room to room, loose limbed and all a gangle.

We crash in the corridor but his hands are empty. “Where's the phone dear?” There is no response as I canter after him on the alert for lonely phones. “Did you have a nice chat with Felicity?” He keeps moving either deep in other thoughts or determined to maintain a new privacy. As I bob and weave in his wake we collide with his father who is equally interest in this new development, as well as concerned for the welfare of all electronic devices in the house. He nabs him by the shoulders, even though his legs keep moving, a cartoon caricature of a fully wound toy “so……..how was Felicity?”
“I dunno.”
“Well you've been talking to her for nearly half an hour, what did you have to talk about?”
“Nuffink.”
I am suddenly aware that we appear to be putting the poor child through the third degree, or what appears to be the third degree but is really only the first degree of a new form of communication.

We smile, wise adults and release him. The innocence of youth, loves young dream, the shadow of the future…….. As usual we are off radar. He calls after him, the retreating speed walker, “maybe you should wine and dine her?” he sniggers. I beam with fondness as my son replies over his shoulder, without missing a beat, “Felicity's not a whiner.”

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