History of Prank Calls

baby girl with a mobile phoneWhen I was growing up, there were two kinds of phones. One had a 500-foot tangled cord and the other spun numbers around like a Sit ’N Spin. The older rotary-style telephone took forever to dial. It was so slow that sometimes, after you dialed all the numbers, you had to quickly hang up because you forgot who you called and why.

In the 1970s, you had two glorious color choices: goldenrod and split pea soup green. They even matched your refrigerator and Tupperware! When the vacuum at our house chewed up a cord, another color spiral would appear from the basement. You were considered rich if your family had the original phone cord.

Standard phone cords were 12 inches and rarely tangled; but if you had a teenager in residence, the 25-foot extended cord was mandatory. Now your kids could giggle in the stairwell two rooms over, and you wouldn’t have to hear any part of their conversation. Helicopter parenting hadn’t been invented yet.

As a child, I dabbled in prank phone calls. I was nowhere near making it an art form; but nonetheless, it was an adequate time killer. Actually, most prepubescent kids believed they were the masters of prank calls. No one older could be that clever or daring.

My friends and I heard if you dialed a number that wasn’t in the phone book, you could call accidentally call China. We could only imagine that it would cost a fortune! So we would search for the funniest last names in the White Pages, throw around some primo dialog, and pray we could hang up before our friends listening on the other line exploded with laughter.

The next generation of prank calls occurred on cellphones the size of a miniature Schnauzer. You plugged the phone into the cigarette lighter holder in your parent’s car and if you held your head still you could keep from losing reception. If the car were running, reception would be lost and since these witty verbal exchanges were with the opposite sex, you didn’t want to chance that. Thank goodness, we didn’t have caller ID!

BlackBerrys were for adults only. It missed adolescent silliness all together.

With flip phones, toddlers added to the pranking world. Clumsily pushing buttons, they imitated parents any time they could get their sticky fingers on it. Nothing is better than taking a shower and discovering the police are leaning on your doorbell and searching your shrubbery for intoxicated oafs. The percentage of young children being able to dial 911 is much higher than one would think.

Smartphones turned up the heat with pranks. Not only could a child text anyone on your contact list, but if you were silly and thought it was a good idea to teach your children to read and write, you might find yourself explaining ridiculous texts to strangers.

“I love bacon an Imeanit!!”

Take my word — it’s not fun explaining why your child is violent about cured pork products.

Thank goodness my young kids never figured out they could do FaceTime. I can only imagine what our accountant would think if a half-dressed toddler showed up on his work computer.

And as technology history shows us, it’s only going to get worse, folks!

Lord, help us all.
(Previously printed in The Kansas City Star on March 26, 2016.)


Unplugged for Family Harmony


previously printed in The Kansas City Star on March 14, 2014
Special to The Star

Do you ever feel as if your children’s brains are being destroyed by electronics?

Televisions, computers, tablets, video games, cell phones, handheld games — the list goes on and on. The electromagnetic currents traveling throughout our homes are bombarding our kiddos’ delicate gray matter, and I often wonder if it’s all frying their brains.

So I decided to develop my own state-of-the-art research study, using a broad sampling of my 2.3 children and the recommended time period of the past weekend. Since I allowed them to be more plugged in, I noticed a decrease in their mental focus, attention to detail and overall ability to listen to me when asking them to clean their room.

The results of my in-depth research were as I had predicted: my children’s brains were melting, and rapidly.

However, electronics weren’t responsible for sucking the life out of my kids. I was the one to be blamed. My husband and I purchased the toys and allowed our girls to spend time “broadening their education.” That is code for extra television time in order to make ourselves feel like successful parents. Oh, the shame!

Actual studies, by scientists who have letters behind their names and fancy nameplates on their office doors, say there should be a maximum of two hours of electronics time per day. But would they still agree with their findings if they had been cooped up with their children for months at end due to the snow-proaching doom of 2014?

And what are East Coast parents doing with the weeks of snow days they’ve accumulated? How many times can you make homemade play dough and snow ice cream with toddlers before you park your kid in front of that whiny “Caillou” show and stare at the Pinterest screen, unshowered, in your jammies, eating peanut butter out of the jar in a panicked trance?

Back when I was a youngster, I don’t remember having snow days. I lived in a college town, so if the campus closed, then the school district closed. However, I’m fairly certain they rarely closed for snow and never closed for low temperatures.

So when my children are banned from any device that shouldn’t be dropped into the bathtub and they claim they’re bored, I travel back in my mind to when there were a handful of channels on the tube, no computers and phones with cords.

What on earth could we have possibly done with all of our spare time?

We played. And, heaven forbid, we used our imaginations!

Now after I pry the iPad from my children’s death grip and the pouting ceases, we end up having fun. Then lo and behold, something amazing happens: we interact and bond.

I know, it’s very old school.

Sometimes our family plays charades, puts on shows or concerts, builds forts or goes camping. Books leap off the shelves, board games and puzzles from my past appear, and we quickly learn who has the competitive edge and who doesn’t give a whip.

During this playtime, it feels as if our girls will stay forever young and will always want to spend time with their fun ol’ parents. But then I wake up from my daydream. Even the best of kids will choose friends over their parents. It’s a rite of passage necessary for development. If during their teens they can’t cut the cord effectively, I’m going to have to go to college with them — and honestly, twice was already one time too many for me.

So for now, I’m going to unplug my world a bit more often to set a better example, and take advantage of our short time together in the same house.

And if I’m lucky, I just might get to make some homemade play dough or snow ice cream with them one more time this winter.

Speaking of happy families, there is a hilarious book about husbands and wives and I bet you a million to one you will relate with at least half of them. The reviews are coming out and they are great! You can get a copy of “I Just Want to Be Alone” HERE.

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Also, I’d love to see you on Nurse Mommy’s Facebook page or Twitter if you are into that kind of thang!


Young Doctors are Out of this World


When I worked as a nurse in a teen clinic, I learned countless things about adolescents.  Most were eye-opening and others…flabbergasting!  Thank heavens for patient protection laws because every day I needed hard-core reasons to keep my mouth shut about the insane things these kids were doing!  However, what surprised me more was the residents (aka newbie doctors) were often as mindless under-prepared for the world as the kids they were treating.

Once in a land, far, far away, I was working with a “green” resident.  Unfortunately, this “extraterrestrial” doc had limited hands-on experience with humans because he had spent the last few eons with his face pressed into books scanning information into his super-human brain.  The sole purpose of residents in general is to work in an educational setting, to be molded by older mindless experienced doctors, ** so the young physicians may osmotically suck out copious amounts of information before being released into the real world.

On this ordinary day, one of the “experienced” doctors instructed a resident to enter a patient’s room, ask some important medical type questions; and before the resident was to leave, he needed to ask the patient to put on a gown so he could later return for a physical exam.  Now the resident had either forgotten how difficult it is to be a teenager, or perhaps was IN medical school during his teen years; therefore, missing “Social Graces 101” because all he told this young girl to do was, “Put on a gown,” after grunting and pointing to a drawer labeled gowns.  Then he eagerly left the room.

As the majority of adults know, when going to various doctor’s offices it usually depends on what part of the body the physician is inspecting to determine which way you wear your gown.  Open in the back, open in front?  This girl had limited experience with the whole gown concept and without a parent or nurse to clear up the nonexistent doctor directions; she did exactly what the he had told her.

Let me preface this as delicately as possible…this was a full-figured young woman who was well above average on the growth curve.  When the young doctor and his mentor later entered the room to perform her exam there was an audible gasp heard down the street hall. Then there was a quick shuffling mimicking the Three Stooges (minus Larry), a murmur of mumbled apologies, and a briskly shut door by a pair of crimson-faced physicians shortly ended the scene.

On this pitiful day the gown drawer was empty of normal adult gowns.  One toddler gown (size 4T to be exact) was accidentally placed in the drawer.  Somehow this plus-sized teen squeezed into it (a bit) tying the strings at her neck so the opening was in the front.  Never could this gown cover her or ANY adult; but with great persistence, she sat there humiliated, as naked as the day she was born, waiting for the young male doctor and his older assistant to return.

As a nurse who came in to rescue the youth, let me tell you…there are not enough words in the English language to erase the scars that occurred from that event.  Hopefully, she will be able to go to another doctor’s office without breaking out in hives or having flashbacks, but thankfully time does heal many wounds in many situations. However, I’m sure the resident learned his lesson STAT and is one of the best educating pediatricians, wherever he is practicing.

So people –I beg of you – if you ever find yourself naked in a doctor’s office, sitting on that cold paper with a Barbie dress tied around your neck? STOP. Get dressed.  And ask yourself, “Does this seem right? Then grab some Reece’s Pieces, your bicycle and E.T. PHONE HOME – ‘cause you probably have a doctor from Uranus in training and YOU deserve better care than that!

**This does not apply to every practicing physician; especially, my father-in-law, who is NOT mindless, or for any of my doctor friends who might be perturbed by the portrayal of “experienced” doctors in this essay.  You obviously are exempt from this gross generalization…except for when you are acting mindlessly.

© 2012, Stacey Hatton. All rights reserved.


Treating Teen Acne Takes a Multi-Pronged Approach

Previously published in Lawrence Journal-World: November 15, 2010

Acne is a four letter word for teenagers.

It’s difficult enough being a teenager, and even with mild acne, he or she can see life as unbearable.

Dr. Lee Bittenbender, a dermatologist at Dermatology Center of Lawrence, says, acne is common and a high percentage of the population struggles with it.

In fact 70 million people have acne, the majority of whom are adolescents.

All types of acne — blackheads, whiteheads, pimples and cysts — develop when pores in our skin become clogged, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD).

Sebum, the normal oil in our skin is responsible for acne. Our bodies produce more sebum when hormones flow. That’s why adolescents are more prone to acne flare-ups.

“A blackhead appears when sebum and dead skin cells clog the pore,” adds the AAD. “While the pore is clogged, its surface remains open.”

Whiteheads form when dead skin cells merge with a surplus of oil, leading to clogged pores with the opening blocked.

“Treating acne can prevent additional breakouts and scars,” according to the AAD.

Acne myths

Certified Physician’s Assistant Jim Fackrell with Kansas Medical Clinics-Dermatology in Lawrence treats adolescent patients for acne. He says the most common myths are:

• “You get pimples because you don’t wash your face enough.” Washing your face helps remove dirt and oil, but washing too much can lead to dryness and irritation, causing more breakouts.”

• “Popping pimples makes them go away faster.” Popping pimples actually increases inflammation. Increasing swelling and redness increasing the chances for dark spots or even scarring that can last a lifetime.

• “Eating too much chocolate or drinking too many soft drinks cause pimples.” Studies have shown no specific foods prove to cause acne.

• “Tanning improves acne.” Tanning may temporarily mask the signs of acne, but can actually increase the inflammation and dryness and flare acne.”

• “All makeup causes acne.” The use of non-comedogenic makeup (one that won’t clog your pores) should be safe; however, in moderate to severe acne, you should ask your dermatologist what are the best cosmetics to use.”

Preventing outbreaks

“Acne cannot be prevented,” says Fackrell, “and develops in most people one time or another. Acne is a normal part of maturing, but some people are more prone to develop it.”

The AAD recommends washing your face with a mild cleanser and lukewarm water once or twice daily. Washing more often or too forcefully may inflame acne.

Dr. Bittenbender adds, “It’s important to wash your face gently with your hands, not a washcloth or a scrubbing brush.”


For mild acne, Bittenbender feels the Benzoyl Peroxide products work better than salicylic acids or the products you find advertised by celebrities on television.

“Benzoyl peroxide products can be purchased without a prescription and are fairly inexpensive,” says Dr. Bittenbender. “They have antibacterial properties that help remove the acne-forming bacteria.”

He also adds, “If dryness or irritation becomes a problem, you may have to use lower percentage of benzoyl peroxide products.”

Lori Mills, a Baldwin City mother, says, “There are so many products out there that promise beautiful clear skin. After watching my three kids battle for clear skin, I have come to the conclusion that what works for one might not work for the other.”

When to see a dermatologist

“When the usual over-the-counter products fail, or if any scarring develops after the pimple is gone, it is time to visit a specialist,” says Fackrell.

If self-esteem becomes a concern — no matter how minimal — don’t ignore the adolescent’s concerns. “Acne can drastically impact teens’ lives,” Fackrell says.

According to AcneNet, the AAD’s online acne site, “People living with acne can suffer from low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression. Acne can even discourage people from pursuing life’s dreams. When acne is under control, a person’s confidence grows. Anxiety and depression diminish.”

Dr. Bittenbender instructs parents, “Instead of telling teens to change their diet, keep their oily hair off their skin, or that they will grow out of it, teens need good effective treatment for acne.”