Newspaper Article Archive of
When we remodeled our house about 15 years ago, my husband and I discussed putting in an intercom system. Our five children had their bedrooms on the upper level, and our large open basement was set up with a play area and family entertainment corner.
These two levels were divided by the main floor where the kitchen, dining, living room, den, laundry and master bedroom were located. My argument was that an intercom system would save me some steps going upstairs or down to round up the family and would save on the amount of shouting throughout the house.
Ultimately, we decided this would be an unnecessary expense and dropped the idea. And who knew that under a decade later, we would have a “portable intercom system” that went everywhere with us.
I am talking about cellphones, of course. Conversing with my kids in the far reaches of the house is now easily accomplished with just a quick text. We have little of the shouting up and down the stairwell that I remember vividly from my childhood.
However, I soon found it tiresome to punch in each name when I wanted the whole family to gather for dinner, so the girls showed me how to group us all into a group chat that they named “Full House.”
I can text in that name, type “food” and all seven family members will appear within minutes. This worked up until Whitney moved out on her own. So then, we created another group chat for just the kids that lived in the house, and I reserved the “Full House” name for other information.
I was using it for news that would be pertinent to just our family, like weddings and pregnancy announcements. Since my husband and I both come from large families, these announcements became frequent.
One day after I sent out a birth announcement, my 20-something son, Walker, texted back; “I WANT OUT OF THIS GROUP CHAT! I DON’T CARE IF I NEVER HEAR ABOUT ANOTHER ENGAGEMENT, WEDDING, SAVE THE DATE, PREGNANCY, BIRTH, DEATH, WHATEVER, I JUST WANT OUT!”
In small case type he went on to say: “The only news I want to hear about is if the house is on fire, something got blown up, or the police are involved.”
I could understand his point; his father felt the same way. In response, the girls created another group chat just for us women, called “Miller Females.”
This fall, Delaney left for college, and she didn’t want to keep getting the texts calling her for dinner, so once again, we have another group chat just for the kids remaining at home called, “Loner Kids Who Live Here.”
As you might have guessed, I am not consulted in the naming of these groups.
I now keep track of six different group chats. The first is for our whole family of seven, which includes my husband and myself. The next one is just for the five kids, the third one is for the four girls only. The fourth one is just for the four kids living at home, which I use when Delaney is home from college on weekends and breaks. One is for the remaining three living at home full time, and the last one is just for Kinzey and Jaicey when I give them their chore lists on the weekends and after school.
Occasionally, I slip up and use the wrong one. For instance, I sent the notice “supper’s ready” the other night, and Whitney and Delaney, both living in other towns, replied, “What are you having?” and “Do you deliver?”
For someone my age who did not grow up with this kind of technology and is learning it late, it doesn’t come naturally. And to be perfectly honest, sometimes I don’t think it’s always better.
Included in my childhood memories is the sound of my mother’s voice, rattling the rafters, as she shouts throughout the whole house, “Kids, come for supper!”
I think, every now and then, I’ll skip the text and send my message via the “Mom Shout.” Just to keep in practice, because you never know, technology could crash someday, and we’ll need to know the “old school” methods.