Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Curious minds

"Hello emergency services, what do you require, Police, Fire or Ambulance?"

We all know the saying "Curiosity killed the cat, satisfaction brought it back." Ben is now also familiar with this adage. He also recently discovered what happens when you dial 000. 

For no other reason than childhood inquisitiveness. 

I'm glad he knows the number, I think I'm glad he has now done a one time only 'trial run'. What I do wish is if he had timed his call a little better, maybe during an hour of day when it wasn't bedlam & didn't sound like there were dying chimpanzee's in the house. 

It was nearly 5pm, time to cook dinner, organize baths & showers, tidy up from the afternoons events & invite chaos to reign supreme. On this day it was also the time motivation hit to vacuum the floors quickly. 

The concept of vacuuming quickly in our house is like mixing oil with water. It just doesn't happen. 

So, it was pretty close to pandemonium here. I was vacuuming, Rianan was either in her room tidying or playing with some friends down the road (I honestly cannot remember if she was here or not at a time that I'm certain will be seared into Ben's memory for life.) Will was watching 'Wreck it Ralph' {again} with the volume turned right up to 90, ten percent below full roar. Jack & Blake were in their bedroom under the instruction to put away the toys. In reality they were wrestling each other in a game that was yet to turn violent.

I'm over half way through my ridiculous idea to vacuum during crazy hour when the phone rings. Knowing Doug has recently finished work I presume it is him calling & let Ben answer the phone. All good, it was Doug who had a quick chat with Ben, who then relayed the conversation back to me after hanging up.

Our little bubble of disorder continues on. I look up to see Ben gazing intently at the phone that is still in his hands. I think little of it beyond he is investigating & familiarizing himself with the handset. Turns out I was somewhat correct in this assumption.

Two or three minutes pass since Doug's call when the phone rings again. I let Ben answer the phone again predicting it is Doug calling back, having forgotten something from the earlier call & continue on with the vacuuming while Jack & Blake are still shrieking in the background & the television is blaring.

Ben comes up eyes all wide, handing me the phone & says "It is the police."

"The police?" I question, thinking he is tricking me, or perhaps it is one of my Brother in law's who is a police officer. Why would the police be calling us?


"Hello, this is the police, do you require emergency assistance?"

"No. No we don't. I'm sorry, I think my ten year old son may have called you & hung up", I reply apologetically, while looking at Ben standing in front of me.

"Are you certain?" The stern voice asks me. "Who is screaming in the background?" she firmly questions.

Oh God. I'm embarrassed, rueful & slightly amused at the predictament all at once. Mostly embarrassed, & if I'm honest, feeling like a crappy mum. I should be cooking dinner, kids all settled quietly, as the older three taking their turns to have a shower. Instead I have let the minions mostly roam free within our four walls, loud as they want because they can't hear me telling them to quieten down over the deafening racket that results from the tv, the vacuum & their own shrieks. 

"That is my seven year old Son & four year old Son, playing in their room. Which they are meant to be cleaning." I confess while walking to Blake & Jack's room, as if being in their presence would allow the operator on the other end of the line to see for herself no one is being hacked to death. Which probably didn't allay her concerns any because they were still rolling around on the floor shrieking & screaming. 

I know, I know, Jack isn't seven years old yet he is still six for another two or so months. Neither has Ben had his double digit birthday, though we are in the countdown. Turns out that under pressure & interrogation I can't remember how old our minions are. All I can manage to drum up is their nearest birthday age. Another black strike. Especially when Jack pipes up loud enough for all to hear "I'm not seven, I'm six." Great, now she has caught out a lie, an inadvertent one, but a lie none the less in what is to her a serious situation. Thanks Jack for your helpful information there.

Still on the phone to the emergency services operator, standing in the middle boys' bedroom doorway & glaring at them, mimicking to be quiet, she still questions "So there is no emergency? You do not require police assistance?"

"No." I confirm, walking back into the kitchen where Ben is hovering. "We do not require police assistance. There is no emergency." Stating this clearly & firmly in case they need it distinctly stated for their records.

Obviously she is not yet convinced that all is indeed legit, because she questions what is going on again. "There is a lot of noise there, what is going on?" (or something to that effect.)

"I'm in the middle of vacuuming, our three year old son is watching a movie so the tv is turned up extremely loud. The other boys were in their bedroom which they were meant to be cleaning but were playing instead." I admit, trying to explain why an ordinary evening here is so loud it has the emergency services questioning the authenticity of my explanations. I also don't admit that Clay is asleep in our room. I figure it is useless information at this stage. 

"How many children do you have there?" she inquires. Well there goes that idea.

"We have six children."

Yep. This was a bit of a 'large family defining moment' for me. Perhaps I should not have been vacuuming at a time when I would normally be cooking dinner. But to be honest, it is not uncommon for the rest of the house to be that loud while the vacuum is going regardless the time of day.

"Would you like to talk to the ten year old who called you?" I ask her, thinking that by now she realizes it was a prank call, not an emergency after all & that she would like to have a quick firm word with Ben about the seriousness of calling triple zero when there is no cause or concern.

"Yes please."

I pass the phone over to Ben, who looks hesitantly between me & the phone. 

"Hello?" He says into the phone. A few seconds pass, "No." Then he passes the phone back to me. 

I later realize, that perhaps she didn't want to reprimand him at all, but wanted further assurances that neither himself or the other kids were in any danger or feeling scared for any reason. 

With the phone back in my possession, the operator & I round the call up with me stating I would be talking to Ben about this call & the seriousness of what he has done. Hanging up, I look at Ben & quietly tell him to go wait in his room, I will talk to him about this later.

Doug gets home shortly after our eventful conversation & I inform him of what has just happened. I'm fairly adamant that Ben will be grounded for life. No sleep overs, no electronics, no special privileges, no going to friends houses or birthday parties. A little over dramatic perhaps, luckily Doug took front point from here. 

Ben's curiosity has been sated & now understands while we are glad he knows how to call for help, it needs to be for a genuine reason next time. He is not grounded for life. But he did have to do three big jobs around the house & also has to do Rianan's daily chores for the next two weeks.

As for the rest of the evening, I spent it waiting for a police patrol to knock on our front door. Even now nearly a week on I still don't know whether to laugh or cry about the whole debacle. 

Oh & Clay slept through the entire house crashing noise. 
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