Friday, January 13, 2006

Red Mum Column January 12

HERE'S this week's Redmum column as featured in The Echo concerning becoming a phone nazi. The untweaked original is posted here.

Red Mum Jan 12

Becoming a phone nazi

One of the things you notice most about your children growing up into teenagers is the mounting phone bills.

About a year ago I made one of the worst financial decisions in recent times when I baulked at the price of a 100 euro house phone thinking it was just too bloody expensive.

This was an amazing phone which could be locked with a PIN. That was until my phone bills hit the 200 euro a month mark.

Before the Young Wan was a teenage monster our phone bills would average between 60 and 80 euro, sometimes more depending on overseas calls. Then they crept up to 100 euro and up and up.

Realising that the culprit was the Young Wan who had become Busby I hunted high and low for a phone lock, to no avail.

That’s when I checked out this snazzy phone, one of those new ones with a base and all. It could be locked from all calls except 10 designated numbers that you could programme in as well as barring calls from particular numbers.

But it was 100 euro and without thinking about it carefully enough because that was before the phone bills had reached their limit, I choose not to buy it.

By the time the monthly phone bill hit 200 euro, I hit the roof.

I did try to talk to her, as well as shout, scream, pull my hair and worry incessantly about how I could not afford this at all. It obviously did not sink in with her and another €200 bill arrived.

The bills’ represented a foreign holiday for us both that we will not get, clothes for us both again that we won’t get, payments for the many bills, money spent talking to someone they have just left five minutes previously.

I suppose one of the things that has upset me most about this is that I tried reasoning, tried to explain how much of a blow losing that money each month was to us and our household.

I don’t even think she fully comprehends what a complete and utter waste of money those bills have been, money we don’t have.

It’s not as it I never allowed her to make calls I do in the evening despite this when she could left alone for five minutes she would call whoever and on their mobiles too.

If I popped out of the house and would call home the line would be constantly engaged. The explanation was always ‘such and such called me’.

This lie would be held onto despite the fact that we get itemised phone bills. Well we know that logic and teenagers do not generally mix.

So I finally bought the phone and in one month it paid for itself with it’s fantastic PIN where the only numbers that can be called without the PIN are my mobile, my work and 999.

Now everyone has to phone her, which I think it is only fair. It is time that other parents bear the brunt their children’s aimless ramblings on the phone and not me.

I would recommend to other parents though who find their phone bills rising steadily to invest in one of these phones and get a PIN that the teenage monsters cannot work out.

The Young Wan did for four days at the outrageous cost of 90 euro. She will never be able to work out the new code.

I have become a phone nazi and I would recommend anyone else to do that too. It’s the only way. Feck talking to them, this is a teenager in a world of their own, so just do it.

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cc said...

I can't remember if I commented on this one before...but teenagers, phones, pot, kettle and black!! if you see what I mean.

Emma in Canada said...

One of the more positive aspects of living on this side of the Atlantic is that we don't pay for our local calls. Thank God, because we'd be in the poorhouse because of my phone habits, not my daughter's.

Paul Power said...


one approach I've recently heard recommended from a work collegue was to introduce your kids to skype, give them a set monthly allowance in skype credits and then lock down the land line. When they have to pay for their own mobile credits they can be unbelievably frugal ( my little brother is a case in point ) and once they realise that ther skype calls are limited to the credits they have they'll switch to free calls by calling skype to skype. Of course this assumes a broadband connection which as many of us know in Dublin is not always possible.

At least with this approach you're not quite being a nazi and you can claim you're empowering them to manage their own calls :-)