A Rare Stroke of Genius

ff Note: This post is part of Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs, where all the cool kids are hanging out. (Moms are welcome over there!) I *might* even have a column called “Teen Angst” there. Welcome to my visitors from DB; thanks for stopping in!

I have *finally* figured it out.

My kids, like so many other teenagers (and frankly, some adults!), are terrible at giving me phone messages. It is totally annoying to find out, sometimes days later, that someone called for me when I wasn’t home, especially if they asked for me to return the call.

I tried telling the kids to avoid answering the phone at all if they weren’t going to write down and/or give me a message. They took that advice for the most part when the caller ID shows a name that they don’t recognize, but for grandparents or other adults they are familiar with, they answer. And then don’t write it down. And then don’t remember to tell me.

The other day, I returned home from where ever I was (doesn’t matter, does it?) and went about my business around the house. The phone rang; it was my mom.

I answered, and she said, “Did the bigger boy tell you that I called?”


“Hold on for a second…” I told her. And then I yelled for him. “HEY! OLDER BOY! DID SOMEBODY CALL FOR ME THIS MORNING???”

I heard his reaction from the basement. “AUGH! Yes…I’m sorry!”

And then, it hit me. Pure genius.

“Come here, please!”

He came up the stairs and I held out the phone to him. He was going to have to explain himself to Grandma.

He took the phone from me and spoke with her. The italics indicate what I imagine my mom was saying to him:

“You didn’t tell your mom I called?”

“No. I’m sorry.”

“What if it was an emergency?”

“Uh, then you probably would have told me that it was an emergency?”

“You better start giving your mom her phone messages, Buster Brown.”

“I know…I’m sorry.”

He finished apologizing, handed me the phone, and sheepishly went back to the basement.

I figure it’ll only take another two or three times of having to do this before the lesson sinks in for good. I’ll keep you posted.



  • D is for Dad

    Oh yea, I'm digging that approach. Make sure you post how they handle it when it's not a family member they're having to apologize too. 🙂
    – Chuck

  • BellaDaddy

    LMAO….sounds exactly like my Mom would have done, right down to the 'Buster Brown"! thanks for the smiles…and the memory!


  • Baby News

    That's awesome. I'm excited, too, to see how he reacts to a non-family member that he has to explain this to. Great stuff.

  • Charlie on the PA Turnpike

    Heh, back in my youth it was the exact opposite…. my grandmother dropped the ball on phone messages.

    I was a college freshman coming home from my job or some other event, and grandmother told me some one called for you.

    Ummmmmm…. who?

    Oh, I don't know… some girl.

    And since I was hardly a guy whom had frequent female callers (read: none), these kinds of messages always gave me great distress.

    Yeah, well… grandmom was over 85 at that time, so it was to be expected, and laughed at now….

  • seashore subjects

    Great remedy! While I was out my mom called and then again later. The first thing she said was, did *boy* tell you I called? Maybe I should have him apologize every time too.

  • Andrew's Daddies

    Great post. No one ever answers the phone in our house. We usually just let it go to vm. If my family or close friends want to speak with me, they call my cell phone. I can't remember the last time I had to take a message for someone on our home phone 😀

  • Tom

    Very nice idea. I'll be watching this space closely for part II. Maybe I won't have to resort to thumbscrews, which was going to be my solution to motivate my kids to write down messages until I saw this.

  • Scott

    crap, I hope my wife doesn't see this post, otherwise I'll have a lot of apologizing to do. I'm terrible at remembering to relay messages.

  • HeirApparent

    My office is essentially a bunch of guys with teenager mentalities, so maybe try what finally worked for us – have 'em, email ya. Kids are so into that Internet stuff…

  • The Devoted Dad

    That is an awesome idea. You're making them accountable. Also- I hate the answering machine and the phone. I rarely answer it anymore. My wife checks the messages so I avoid the above problem. It works for both of us.

  • Michelle

    I love the fact that you're doing this. I'm so stealing this – along with the contract and several other things — from you for when the wee ones are older and I allow them near a phone. But since we have no land line, that might not happen for years yet 🙂

  • Mrs4444

    Comes with the territory, I guess. I love your idea, though!

    Stopping by to say I'M SO EXCITED!!!! SIX MORE DAYS!!

  • WeaselMomma

    Oh, now I just want to call your house relentlessly and leave messages, just for the sake of harassing the boys.
    BTW, word verification = imatick

  • surprised mom

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE this approach! I wish I would have thought of it. I have two teen girls who don't know how to give out phone messages either. These are the same two girls who would throw a fit if I forgot to tell them one of their friends called.
    I'm am using this method the next time one of them forgets to give me a phone message. I can't thank you enough for passing it on!

  • Jason

    I wish Number 1 would answer the phone from time to time. I'll probably regret that as he gets older though.