I had to call my son at his after school program a few years ago. I wanted to check in on him and see how he was feeling. This was the first time that we had spoken on the phone without a family member on the other side. It was strange to hear his voice. He was a little surprised, but started chatting to me. And at the end of the conversation, I said “Bye Kabir” and he said “Bye Mommy” and then nothing happened. We did that a few more times and then I realized that he didn’t want to hang up on me. Something in him prevented him from wanting to hang up. Finally I said, “It’s OK Kabir. I love you. I am going to hang up the phone now” and I did.
A few months ago, I called my daughter’s classroom to talk to her and the same thing happened. We got to the end of our conversation and she didn’t want to hang up on me either. I don’t know whether she didn’t know what to do or something felt wrong about it, but she had a hard time with it. I thought it had to do with my kids not wanting to hang up on their mother, that they didn’t want to show me any disrespect. But just today, as I tutored a first grader in Boston online and over the phone (through an organization called TutorMate), I went to hang up and the same thing happened. My student didn’t want to hang up on me. I finally had to say, “Ok [name], I hope you have a good weekend. I am going to hang up the phone now” and then I did.
Have any of you ever experienced this? On some fundamental level, I think that what these children are responding to is how abrupt and perhaps unnatural it is to hang up on somebody. Or perhaps I’m just reading into this behavior. Regardless, I wish I could have stayed on the phone longer with my student today (and I wish the same with my children months and years ago). And perhaps my student not wanting to hang up on me means that a part of him (and them) felt the same way.