“Oh, Mommy! It’s just E-zackly what I wanted. Thank you!”
We were pleased, proud, and happy. What amazing parents we were. What gift selection. What a joyful home we had made. Everything, as the poets have said, was awesome.
That is, until the kids started playing with them.
Arguments. Anger. Crying. Fighting. No one could wait to listen. The older kids sort of got the hang of it quicker, but everyone wanted to talk and kept forgetting to hold down the button. And when they did remember, it was usually after they were done talking, or right when the other party was also talking. It was chaos.
We were suddenly rethinking our status as Earth’s Greatest Living Parents. Why the chaos? Why the confusion? Why couldn’t the kids figure this out?
They probably would have figured out something over time, if they didn’t punch each other’s lights out and give up first. But the good news was they didn’t have to.
I stepped in and shared some basic information I had learned from my grandfather when I used to sit with him while he used his Ham Radio.
“It’s best if you start by saying who you are, then, ‘Have you got your ears on?’ You also always want to end with ‘over,’ then let go of the button, so the person on the other end knows you’re done and they can hold their button down and start talking.”
“OK, makes sense,” they said.
“Then,” I went on, “when the second person starts, they say ‘roger that,’ so both people know that what was said was heard and understood.”
You can imagine the conversation from there. They immediately began following these conventions and, as a result, began having a blast.
We learned some things about walkie-talkies.
- You can’t listen, or be heard, unless you follow the rules.
- You can’t express yourself with success, unless you adhere to the manners people older and wiser than you set up.
- You can’t have fun unless you listen patiently.
- You are more free when you voluntarily restrain yourself.