Tell it to the Tattle Phone

Do not underestimate the power of getting something off your chest

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

How do you know you’re not supposed to take all the cake? Or whack someone when they take your toy? There are so many ways to go wrong, consequently we spend a lot of our earliest years learning all the things we aren’t supposed to do and then even more time filing reports on the kids who are still doing them. Especially when they are doing them to us.
Clearly kids have a deep, deep need to tell an authority that there has been a wrong. This doesn’t bode well if you are a pre-K teacher since a large portion of the day could easily be consumed with mediating accusations. But out of this reality one pre-K teacher came up with an idea: tell it to a tattle phone. She devised one by mounting an empty tissue box on the wall which she then rigged with a receiver. It was a hit. Kids lined up to report all manner of transgressions:

Kid 1: Eli told me a lie.

Kid 2: Seamus wasn't sharing with me, and I don't like it, and I'm very upset.

Kid 3: My friend Jack was in my face when I was waiting to go to an area. And that made me really upset.”
As I listened to this utterly hilarious and sweet This American Life podcast, I was struck once again by how powerful it is to get something off your chest. Even if nothing else happens there is still such tremendous relief in being able to get it out and have it be heard. It reminded me of one day after the trauma of having a grandchild born 3 months too soon. Leo was finally home and no longer in such a dire place but at that point I found myself in such a state of dysregulation it was hard to navigate some of the everyday challenges that came up. On this particular day, I was having trouble pulling it together enough to get out the door to go to work. At the same time, I suspected if I could just tell someone about my distress, I possibly could be on my way. I just really wanted my day back.
Not wanting to get into it with anybody in my life which would take longer, I did the practical thing and called the crisis line. As it happened, quite a number of other folks in Maine were also having a hard time of it that day and so the person who answered let me know that someone would call me back within 15 minutes. This wasn’t part of my plan but I had an idea. I told the person on the line that if I could just tell them what I was struggling with, I knew it would help and I could possibly then get to work and not even be too late. Understandably, they declined, saying they didn’t have the training. No problem I said, all I need you to do every once in a while is murmur, “that must be hard,” or “I’m sorry you’re going through this,” or “I understand.” They reluctantly agreed and I was only 30 minutes late for work. Not too bad.
Let us never forget the untold power in just putting our distress into words and saying them out loud to kind listening ears. Or apparently even into a receiver fastened to a tissue box. Just having a place to put our injury can ease our minds.
There has been so much ongoing suffering in the past couple of years. So many of us are trying to recover balance after being in an ongoing scramble to maintain life and sometimes literally save it, our own and others. Do not forget that there are resources here at Northern Light for you.