The silent treatment


It occurred to me around 5pm last night that I’d forgotten to check my messages all day. As it turned out, checking my messages was impossible because I’d left my phone at home.

I called Husband and asked if he’d seen my phone lying around the house anywhere. And he was like: “How can you not have noticed all day that you didn’t have a phone?”

I didn’t notice because I’m not terribly phone-aware. I don’t call anyone. No-one calls me. So it never actually rings. Is that weird?

Very occasionally it does ring and I scramble over to it in a complete panic, only to find someone trying to sell me something on the other other end. No I don’t want a discount on my next night’s stay at your hotel. No I don’t want your special offer on a case of wine.

But nobody I actually know ever calls. Not even my mother. I think it’s because they can sense the unease in my voice, that their call isn’t entirely welcomed with open arms.

I mean, I’m addicted to social interaction via email, text and Facebook. But the idea of actually TALKING to someone on the phone? Shudder. Not my thing. I’d rather chat in person. Kind of. If there’s a glass of wine involved.

I’d jump to the conclusion that I’m really weird except that I know I’m not alone.

The Sharpest Pencil, for example, wrote recently: “I loathe phoning people, especially people with whom I have no previous connection and you’d be surprised at how often this actually happens.  Here are just some of the things I have big problems with

  • Making an appointment at the hairdresser
  • Booking a table for dinner
  • Making an appointment for a doctor I have never seen before
  • Calling a shop to find out if they have something in stock (actually I shouldn’t include this because I never do it – would rather go there and find out in person)
  • Phoning someone I don’t know very well who’s called me and left me a message to call them back.”

That’s me to a tee. I am totally in love with the fact you can book so many services on-line these days.

Not wanting to call people was a major problem when I was a newspaper reporter. When you’re a reporter it’s your job is to call total strangers and ask them questions. My own personal hell.

Now, if anyone needs to be interviewed, I assign someone else do it. And everything else happens via keypad.

So you’d think I’d be unsurprised to have a non-communicative daughter. My eldest has an enormous vocabulary but rarely speaks. It’s a little off-putting as a parent, even a non-communicative one.

I often fret over her silence, wondering if there’s something wrong with her.

(Something wrong with HER … there’s an irony.)

You’d think that someone who’s announced she never calls anyone wouldn’t find her traits unusual, but I’ve always had this impression that I didn’t start out zip-lipped and gradually became that way as I aged.

But perhaps I’ve always been a bit on the silent side. I do remember my grandmother telling my mother that “still waters run deep” while giving a discreet nod in my direction.

I must ask my mum whether I was a chatty Kathy as a kid or a surly Sally.

Mum – was I a chatty Kathy or a surly Sally? (She checks in on the blog every few weeks, so I should have an answer for you soonish.)

It’s quite challenging having a non-communicative child. The youngest and I blather on to each other constantly. It’s quite lovely actually. Lots of “oooh, I love your shoes” and “can I have that necklace when I grow up” and “let’s make muffins” and “Should we shoot some netball hoops this arvo?”

I’ll realise every now and again that the eldest is sitting in the corner reading and I’ll ask how her day went and she’ll say “good” without even looking up. And then I scrabble around for something else to ask so she can give me another one-word answer.

How do you teach someone the value of social interaction when you’re so crap at it yourself?

7 thoughts on “The silent treatment

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  1. U talked lots at school… LOTS… & on the phone after school… coz we hadnt finished all out talking… lol… i remember mum saying ‘u just saw each other an hour ago, y do u need to b on the phone??’

  2. I think the main reason young people prefer to send text messages rather than make voice phone calls is a natural dislike of interrupting the other person. Cost is the secondary reason for this trend. Like you, I feel terrible if I make a restaurant booking during meal-times when the person who answers the phone could be really busy. So I think you’re normal. Also, I can never find my phone when I’m home – I frequently have to use the landline to ring the mobile to hear its ringing tone to locate my mobile.

  3. I called my mobile so I could follow the ring and find it and then when I did, I went, ‘Oh crap, I missed a call!’. So I tried the number a few times on the landline (because it’s cheaper) but it was always busy. Because I was ringing my own missed call. Because I am an idiot when it comes to phones.

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