“Blessed are those who can laugh at themselves, for they will never cease to be amused.” ~ Author Unknown
I have two children born to me by birth and several more born to me out of love. That sounds a little strange, but what I mean is that those kids closest to my own children become my kids by default. They’re not truly my children in that I don’t have to feed and clothe them, and I can send them home to their parents at the end of the day; but they’re my children in the aspect that I love them dearly and, in many ways, treat them like my own kids. Like my own children, I try to be there to cheer them for their wonderful accomplishments and milestones; but I’m also not afraid to shake my finger at them and say, “That’s not appropriate” when they they misbehave. I’m sure it’s a mixed blessing for them and, honestly, sometimes it’s a mixed blessing for me.
Among those kids I claim as my own are Sarah, Chase and Jess. If you follow my blogs for very long, I’m sure those names will pop up from time to time as they are quite frequently my teenage daughter’s partners in crime. I’ve always told my kids and their friends, “If you can’t learn to laugh at yourself, then you’ll someday be the only one not laughing while the rest of the world laughs at you.” My great advice was put to the test recently when I was on the receiving end of one of their practical jokes.
One peaceful Wednesday morning in late May, I was enjoying my last cup of coffee and enjoying the quiet of my house before beginning my busy day of errands and cleaning. My kids were in school and I’d just seen my husband off to work when the phone rang.
“Hello?” I answered.
“Hello,” responded the caller.
“Ummm…who is this please?” I asked.
“This is Bob.”
“Ummm…Hi Bob,” I said with curiosity. Who in the world was Bob, I wondered?
“How are you today?” Bob asked.
“I’m fine, and you?”
At this point I’m not quite sure what’s going on or who this “Bob” is and so I asked, “Can I help you with something, Bob?”
“Nope. I just called to see how you were today.”
“Oh…okay…” I said. “I’m good. Thanks for asking, Bob. Have a good day.”
“Thanks. You too,” he said and then hung up.
After hanging up, I sat there for several moments and scratched my head thinking what a strange person this Bob was to call a random stranger. I called a local friend to share the details of my bizarre conversation when, only a few minutes into my conversation, my other line buzzed indicating I had another caller. Putting my friend on hold for a moment, I switched over to take the second call.
“Hello?” I answered.
“Hi! This is Bob!”
“Umm…Hi Bob…how can I help you?” I asked.
“I just called to make sure you’re still doing okay,” he replied.
“Yup. Thanks. Just fine. Thanks, Bob.”
“You betcha,” he responded.
“Have a good day.”
“Umm…okay. Thanks. Goodbye.”
“Goodbye,” he said and then hung up.
Weird-weird-weird! I returned to my previous phone call with my friend and we discussed the strangeness of the phone call. Why in the world would some random stranger call me? Was it a prank call? Did he know me from somewhere? Or, god forbid, was he some type of bizarre house stalker checking to see if anyone was home before breaking in and taking all of our precious belongings? I’d pretty much dismissed the last as being too “out there” for serious consideration, until the phone rang several more times over the next hour with similar calls from “Bob.” At this point, I thought it was more than a little bizarre and, at the urging of several friends, called the non-emergency police department number and asked whether it was worthy of even reporting. All I had was a phone number from CallerID to go from. Nothing else, and “Bob” didn’t actually threaten me in any way; he was just a pest. I was beginning to think he was just some lonely and harmless old guy needing conversation who had pulled my number out at random, and then just kept calling back because I’d been relatively nice to him.
After a brief conversation with the dispatch officer, she insisted that the phone calls might be “significant” and further insisted that it was probably important to have an officer come out to file a report. I tried many times to tell her that I really didn’t think it was that big of a deal, but she continued to strongly urge me to file a report until I began to become almost paranoid. Was someone stalking me? Surely not! I’m not really the kind of person someone chooses to stalk. But I finally conceded that it wouldn’t hurt to send an officer out to my home to discuss it.
Within minutes, an officer arrived at my door. I was beside myself with embarrassment and kept apologizing to him. “I’m so sorry,” I said. “This is probably nothing. I’m not really ‘worried’ about it, but the dispatcher insisted that it was worthy of having you come out. I feel so utterly ridiculous wasting your time like this.”
The officer was a sweetheart. We talked for several moments and he asked a series of questions which led me to disclose that I had a teenage daughter but, no, I didn’t think anyone had a vendetta against her or our family.
“Ya know,” I said. “Now that you mention my teenage daughter, it wouldn’t surprise me if it was just some kid playing a joke. Maybe even someone she knows. If it’s a kid playing a joke, I really wouldn’t want them to get into trouble for playing a silly prank. I was a kid once, too. I’m sure you and I have both done much stupider things than to prank call someone’s mom. I’ll bet that’s what it was.”
The stoic young officer just smiled and humored my comments. He, too, insisted that it was worthy of at least looking into, and so he took the phone number from my CallerID and said he’d check into it and get back to me. I saw him to the door and thanked him for his time and assumed that would be the last I’d hear of it. I’d done my part and reported the incident, and now they could do with it what they deemed appropriate. I went back and began working on my “to do” list and, within about five minutes, my doorbell rang again. Standing at the door was that same stoic young officer whom I had seen off only a few minutes before. He had an “interesting” expression on his face. I wasn’t entirely sure, but it almost appeared as though he were trying to suppress a laugh or at least a grin.
“Mrs. Armstrong,” he said. “Your caller has been revealed. I assume you’ll want to have a conversation with your daughter, so I’ll let you handle it from here however you feel appropriate.”
“Huh?” I asked, dumbfounded. “My daughter? What do you mean?”
Grinning now, the officer replied, “I called the number from your CallerID and introduced myself as an officer with the (local) police department. I didn’t have to push very hard before the young man on the phone threw your daughter under the bus. It appears that your daughter and her friends were bored at school and thought it’d be fun to pull a prank on you. At this point, I’ll leave the handling of it to you and you can determine how you wish to address it.”
It took me a moment to scoop my jaw up off of the floor, and then I apologized profusely to the officer for having wasted his time. I was deeply embarrassed, but I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or throttle the kids. I apologized once more and thanked the officer for his time and then closed my front door. Within seconds, my mobile phone was buzzing, indicating an incoming text message. The text message read: “Mrs. Armstrong. This is Chase. I’m sooooo sorry! I hope I didn’t scare you! It was me…I’m Bob! Amber told me to do it and we thought it’d be funny! Don’t be mad! I hope we didn’t scare you!”
Hmmm…to be mad or not to be mad? To throttle the kids or just laugh it off? Could I follow my own advice and laugh at myself, or was I going to be angry and hold a grudge while those around me laughed at me. I’m thankful for a sense of humor and so I was able to laugh at myself; but I’m not so sure Chase and Amber share my sense of humor.
As penance for my having had to call the cops on them, “my children” spent the next Saturday weeding, turning the soil and mulching my very large flower garden. To their credit, they did a beautiful job and it looked beautiful when they were done. Oh…and Chase’s Facebook status on the evening following his daytime prank?
“Warning: Prank calling your friend’s mother with your friend will result in an officer calling your phone! Lesson learned! 🙂 Awesome day!”
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