The house we lived in the longest when my kids were growing up was in a great neighborhood. There were playmates, a park close by, and neighbors who became good friends. Because my husband traveled a lot for work, we put a security system in when we built the home. It was usually on at night, or whenever we left the house. The service included a monitoring company that would call if the alarm sounded for more than a couple of minutes. You needed a password to prevent them from sending the police. If you had too many false alarms, they charged a fee, so it was important to keep those to a minimum.
The only times we had the police dispatched were when our kids were home with a babysitter or relative, usually a grandparent. One funny babysitter dispatch occurred when our next door neighbor’s daughter came to watch the girls one night. We would only be gone for a couple of hours, and our neighbors were also good friends, so I knew if anything came up they were close by. You picture the kids watching tv, having fun with a babysitter they know very well. What could possibly go wrong? For some reason, the alarm was turned on, and it went off when the front door was opened to get some food dropped off for our sitter. With the alarm blaring, and no one who knew the password, the sheriff was on his way. My neighbor came over in time to see her daughter and my girls, hands raised, opening the door for the county’s finest. Luckily she could explain what happened, the alarm got turned off, and everyone involved has a funny memory of the evening. And it was all over by the time we got home.
Fast forward a few years, and another comical false alarm occurred. My mother, who was always willing to watch the grandkids, had picked them up from some activity. They came into the house, with the security system on, and must have been carrying a lot of things, because it was a bit of a disaster. The alarm went off and the code wasn’t entered correctly. The monitoring company called, and our landline answering machine was on and recorded the entire conversation, as follows:
Security – Hello, this is the monitoring company and we show an alarm at your house. ( No kidding- it is blaring in the background)
Grandmother– Yes, I know. I just brought my granddaughters to their house and couldn’t get it turned off. (Noise is louder, and now includes screaming kids, and a barking dog).
Security– What is your password?
Grandmother– Girls, do you know the password? (Negative). We don’t know the password. Isn’t there some other way you can verify this isn’t a real alarm?
Security- No, only the password will work.
Grandmother- ( Retired high school teacher, getting annoyed- using her “teacher voice”). Young man, I don’t know the password, and neither do my granddaughters. Think about it- if I was a burglar, would I be on the phone talking to you about all of this? Of course not. I would be loading the valuables in my car and making a break for it. It makes no sense to waste everyone’s time when this clearly isn’t a break in. ( Alarm, dogs and children are still making a lot of noise).
Security– Since you don’t know the password, ma’am, I am sending the sheriff.
Grandmother– Honestly. Hangs up.
The alarm wasn’t the only technology feature at our house that confounded the grandparents. We had a code to open the garage door in addition to the security system code and password. To make all of this work better, we adopted the same codes at our house that my parents used at theirs, and let them pick the security word. I also wrote all of this down for sitters when we were going out. The remote controls for the tv and vcr were never mastered, but the kids got old enough to figure those out. The vcr at my parents’ house flashed “12” as long as they had it- and it was only used when the grandkids were there to operate it.
Now that I have a grandchild to watch, I have the advantage of a cell phone with an app that keep tracks of all the passwords I need at her house and daycare. So far, I haven’t been locked out or set off any alarms. I will admit, however, to some difficulty with the remote control and tv. Between streaming services, a gazillion cable channels, more than one remote, and the grandchild being used to everything being readily available, I am not as proficient as the other adults in her life. This is usually when she says “Nana, you are very old”. And she is right. But I am exceptionally pleased with myself when I can get something to work, and am always willing to try. It won’t be too much longer, and she will be able to find all of her shows without my help, and that will be a good thing. In the near future I will also be available to help with homework, just like the picture above. I am going to wait awhile, though, on going full grey on the hairdo. Not quite ready to give up the blonde highlights!