When we bought our house, one of the features listed was a built-in intercom system. An intercom is one of those things that, in theory, sounds wonderful but in actuality ranks right up there with a central vac system on the list of "features" that are never used.
I cannot recall a single occasion when the doorbell has rung and, instead of walking to the door to answer it, I have walked the other direction to the intercom panel in the kitchen to press the button and say, "HELLO?" What really is the advantage? If I then hear the voice of someone I do not want to see, I have just given away the fact that I am home. If it is someone I actually want to let in the house, I then have to walk to the door anyway. It just seems like an extra step.
We do, in fact, use the intercom but not for the intended purpose. I don't think that the inventor of the built-in whole house intercom envisioned the parents of a child with autism spying on him, but that is what we do. We have the "monitor" button pressed in David's room so that we can hear what he is doing at night. He does not really have a problem with wandering, but I do worry about him leaving the house and the intercom is the first line of defense because we can hear if he is up. Strike that—I can hear if he is up, because I seem to be the only one in the house who can hear, or who pays attention to the noise, that constant backdrop of activity in David's room.
I must admit, I do get tired of trying to read my book, watch a TV show or write while trying simultaneously to pay attention to but also to tune out the noise from David's room. I guess that is the price of peace of mind.
Last night, however, I almost ripped the intercom system out with my bare hands. David has been sick and has not been sleeping well and since I can hear every cough, sneeze and sniff, I am tired. I was sound asleep when at 1:00 a.m. I heard the song "Love Shack" by the B-52's blaring in the house. It couldn't have scared me more if an actual B-52 had just flown into the house. It must have actually catapulted me out of the bed because I swear that by the time I woke up I was already standing in the door of the bedroom. I thought the noise was coming over the intercom, so I ran to David's bedroom thinking he had turned on his radio, but that was not the case. I ran back to our bedroom to check Michael's radio, when I finally realized that the intercom radio was turned on, blasting music throughout the house and probably through the outside speakers, as well. Sorry neighbors.
I went downstairs to the kitchen control panel to discover that David had managed to program the intercom system to have the radio turn on at precisely 1:00. A.M. I didn't even know it had that feature. I turned the lights on, spent several minutes pressing buttons in an attempt to figure out how to disarm the monster, ate a brownie (I could rationalize it at the time) and then climbed back into bed.
"Did you hear that?" I said to Michael who seemed singularly unconcerned about the attack of the 80's party music and he replied, "Hear what?" When I explained what had just happened, he laughed because he hadn't been able to figure out why that song had been going through his head.