I know that this is long but please take the time to read it. If you are a parent, do what I did and put yourself in the part of the parents. I know that I learned the importance of LISTENING instead of talking. You might want to grab a kleenex or two.
We all know what it's like to get that phone call in
the middle of the night. This night's call was no
different. Jerking up to the ringing summons, I focused
on the red illuminated numbers of my clock. Midnight.
Panicky thoughts filled my sleep-dazed mind as I
grabbed the receiver.
My heart pounded; I gripped the phone tighter and
eyed my husband, who was now turning to face my
side of the bed.
"Mom?" I could hardly hear the whisper over the
static. But my thoughts immediately went to my
daughter. When the desperate sound of a young
crying voice became clearer on the line, I grabbed
for my husband and squeezed his wrist.
"Mom, I know it's late, but don't...don't say
anything, until I finish. And before you ask, yes,
I've been drinking. I nearly ran off the road a few
miles back, and..."
I drew in a sharp shallow breath, released my
husband and pressed my hand against my forehead.
Sleep still fogged my mind, and I attempted to
fight back the panic. Something wasn't right.
"And I got so scared. All I could think about was
how it would hurt you if a policeman came to your
door and said I'd been killed. I want...to
come home. I know running away was wrong. I know
you've been worried sick. I should have called you
days ago, but I was afraid...afraid..."
Sobs of deep-felt emotion flowed from the receiver
and poured into my heart. Immediately I pictured my
daughter's face in my mind and my fogged
senses seemed to clear. "I think-"
"No! Please let me finish ! Please!" She pleaded, not
so much in anger but in desperation.
I paused and tried to think of what to say. Before
I could go on, she continued, "I'm pregnant, Mom.
I know I shouldn't be drinking now...especially now,
but I'm scared. So scared!" The voice
broke again and I bit into my lip, feeling my own eyes
fill with moisture. I looked at my husband who sat
silently mouthing, "Who is it?"
I shook my head and when I didn't answer, he jumped
up and left the room, returning seconds later with the
portable phone held to his ear. She must have heard t he
click in the line because she continued, "Are you still
there? Please don't hang up on me! I need you. I
feel so alone."
I clutched the phone and stared at my husband,
seeking guidance. "I'm here, I wouldn't hang up," I said.
"I know I should have told you, Mom. But when we
talk, you just keep telling me what I should do. You
read all those pamphlets on how to talk about sex and
all, but all you do is talk. You don't listen to me. You
never let me tell you how I feel. It is as if my
feelings aren't important. Because you're my mother,
you think you have all the answers. But sometimes I
don't need answers. I just want someone to listen."
I swallowed the lump in my throat and stared at the
how-to-talk-to-your-kids pamphlets scattered on my
night stand. "I'm listening," I whispered.
"You know, back there on the road, after I got the
car under control, I started thinking about the baby
and taking care of it. Then I saw this phone booth and
it was as if I could hear you preaching about people
shouldn't drink and drive. So I called a taxi. I
want to come home."
"That's good, Honey," I said as relief filled my
chest. My husband came closer, sat down beside me
and laced his fingers through mine. I knew
from his touch that he thought I was doing and
saying the right thing.
"But you know, I think I can drive now."
"No!" I snapped. My muscles stiffened, and I
tightened the clasp on my husband's hand. "Please,
wait for the taxi. Don't hang up on me until
the taxi gets there." "I just want to come home, Mom."
"I know. But do this for me. Wait for the
taxi, please." I listened to the silence in fear. When
I didn't hear her answer, I bit into my lip and closed
my eyes. Somehow I had to stop her from driving.
"There's the taxi, now."
Only when I heard someone in the background asking
about a Yellow Cab did I feel my tension easing.
"I'm coming home, Mom There was a click and the
phone went silent. Moving from the bed with tears
forming in my eyes, I walked out into the hall and went
to stand in my sixteen-year-old daughter's room. The
dark silence hung thick. My husband came from behind,
wrapped his arms around me and rested his chin on the
top of my head. I wiped the tears from my cheeks. "We
have to learn to listen," I said.
He pulled me around to face him. "We'll learn.
You'll see." Then he took me into his arms, and I buried
my head in his shoulder. I let him hold me for several
moments, then I pulled back and stared back at the bed.
He studied me for a second, then asked, "Do you think
she'll ever know she dialed the wrong number?"
I looked at our sleeping daughter, then back at him.
"Maybe it wasn't such a wrong number."
"Mom, Dad, what are you doing?" The muffled young
voice came from under the covers. I walked over to my
daughter, who now sat up staring into the darkness.
"We're practicing," I answered.
"Practicing what?" she mumbled and laid back on the
mattress, her eyes already closed in slumber
"Listening," I whispered, and brushed a hand over her