The odds of a two-year-old boy with no prior training picking up a phone, turning it on and dialing 911 before replacing the phone in the cradle are probably something like one in one hundred forty-nine million, nine hundred and sixty-three. Today I learned that odds like that do not render something impossible. After I tell this story I think I may go out and buy a lottery ticket.
Shortly before two thirty in the afternoon on a quiet cloud-cloaked Saturday a certain young boy sat on his mother’s bed and played with a laundry basket; he was just small enough to pull the basket over his whole body while he nestled down in the pillows. His baby sister lay on the floor amusing herself with the drawer pulls on the dresser while Mommy sorted the closet.
Mommy’s idea of a relaxing Saturday was not sorting closets. In an ideal world, she would much rather bake cookies and sit down to a good book while her children napped for a solid two hours. The world is very far from being ideal and Daddy had to work that day, so Mommy resorted to making herself useful instead.
Now in this house there also lived two cats. Neither of these two felines knew how to use a toilet, so every day Mommy must clean out their litter box. On this dreary Saturday the time was made to complete this chore shortly before half past two. This particular chore, though unappealing, takes only two minutes to complete.
Just as Mommy dried her washed hands the phone began to ring. Mommy walked briskly down the hall toward the bedroom. The little boy still played on the bed although the baby had moved on to something a little more exciting. Mommy stepped over the pillows and the laundry basket that now cluttered the floor in front of the night table and picked up the ringing telephone from the exact spot it had occupied when she left the room mere minutes earlier. Her thumb pressed the flashing talk button as she greeted the caller through a quick smile at her son.
I learned something about 911 operators after I answered that phone call: they’re not keen on fielding calls from button pushing toddlers. I also learned that the police department is required to send an officer to the address where the call originated. Toddler or no toddler. The kindly policeman informed me that he has a daughter the same age as my son; that accounts for the reason he was so jovial and understanding. Personally, I was perfectly mortified at having to explain why he had been called to our “emergency.”
While we were on the topic the officer told me that a great way to teach children to dial 911 is to program the number into the phone and use a red sticker to indicate which button to push in case of an emergency. A big red button is begging to be pushed, and I informed the officer that he would be coming to my door frequently if I tried that method any time soon. I’ll file that one away for another weekend when I’m bored and need a little extra excitement.
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