When The Phone Rings . . .

When The Phone Rings . . .

Killing Time Waiting for My Nephew To Call Back

Listen, I love my nephew Casey. I do. Unfortunately, he lives in Pennsylvania and I live in South Florida, so we don’t see each other often. We don’t talk all that often, either, because he and his wife have three really little kids: 9, 3, and 1. That makes the parents Genuinely Busy People. There should be trophies for that.

Anyway, imagine my joy when my nephew recently called me through Facebook’s Messenger video capability and we could talk face to face! This was a first for us. He was multi-tasking, home from work, prepping dinner for the kids and monitoring their activity. His wife was on her way home, but hung up in rush hour.

Given this multi-tasking approach, a lot of the camera angles from my nephew’s end were of the ceiling because he was on the move, a man with a mission. Admirable. Really is.

But here’s what I’ve learned about young people with children, some of those kids still in diapers. They almost never call back. Oh, and conversations are consistently broken with things like “Hang on, Aunt Laura. Jade! Take that out of your mouth; Aunt Laura, don’t hang up ‘cause I’ll be right back.” (I sigh, and drum my fingers on the table while I wait two or three minutes for the minor drama to subside.)

Another favorite? Someone is crying. Someone really doesn’t want mom or dad on the phone, taking attention away from them. Can’t say I blame that for them. So I hear this eight minutes into the conversation: “What’s the matter, baby? No, I’ll be there to play with you in just a minute. Just give mommy a minute.”

More crying ensues. And then? “Aunt Laura? I’ll call you right back.”

Now, for whatever reasons I have a number of friends raising young families—or sometimes even sisters with grandchildren living with them. When they say they’ll call “right back,” I generally believe they will. I know full well they intend to. So I hang around, iPhone to the side, doing that finger drumming on the table again. As time passes I sometimes scribble notes on a scratch pad about the next book I’m working on. If not that, I might start a grocery list for the next day. Depending on the hour I’ll grab a glass of wine. I do sitting stretches, which mostly consist of jetting my legs up and down while I wait. And even when a boatload of time has passed, I don’t give up.

Nope. Not me. I prop my iPhone on a tripod so I don’t have to hold it and then cart my laptop to the kitchen or dining room table to stream something while I wait for that return call. It gives every appearance of me being a techno-geek, but there isn’t any real point in getting involved in anything important, because it would only be interrupted by that follow-up call, right?

(Oh. While this tiny little drama is playing out, my husband is generally watching regular TV on the big screen in the family room and I don’t want my conversations to disturb his shows, which generally consist of NCIS in any variety, or endless repeats of bang ‘em up, shoot ‘em up action shows that show a lot of buildings dramatically blowing up and lengthy car chases. They lack a real storyline, but men don’t seem to mind that at all.)

So: He’s set. I’m set. He’s mildly waiting for me to return so that we can share quality time watching something I will pretend to enjoy, and I’m still hanging tough, waiting for that return call. Sometimes I am also delaying dinner, or watching it congeal on my plate.

I’ve made a rule, however, and though it is unspoken, it’s basically this: After 90 minutes, I give up. I pack my stuff up, sigh, hope my husband’s show is over and I can persuade him to watch something with a storyline. If, by some rare chance, that phone does ring later than that? I let it go to voice, and text back that I’ll catch up later.

The good news is this: When I can connect with my young Genuinely Busy People and for reasons that always amaze me actually manage to stay on the phone, we might talk for a good hour or likely even more.

I guess it’s all worthwhile because when those conversations actually occur, despite the inevitable interruptions, they are golden and I will hum myself to sleep that night.

So bring it on, nephews and nieces. Bring it on. Always try. Just remember that I’m a Woman of a Certain Age and my hours probably don’t coincide with yours all that often.

Tell me. This surely happens to some of you, too, right?