Skype, Skype, Skype to My Lou


We have become a mobile society, one in which very few folks live where they grew up. My husband and I are prime examples of that lifestyle, having lived in seven states in nearly 38 years of marriage. We've moved close to and away from both sets of parents, both joyously pleasing them when we enabled them to see their grandchildren and breaking their hearts when we moved. How then can I expect my own children to be living near us? In my mind I fully expect this to happen some day, I truly do. Yet, I know it probably never will, what with our son living on the East coast and daughter on the West. And cloning isn't a scientific possibility yet. Neither do we possess the superhero power of teleportation, darn the luck!

So, in the absence of everyone living in a family compound in an agreed-upon location (like that's ever gonna happen!), we have the bounty and blessing of texting, Skyping and FaceTime. Praise be to the technological angels on earth who made this possible! HOW did we ever live without it? I only wish we'd had these savvy ways of communication when I was younger. Oh, how I would have loved to see and talk to my grandparents when we lived at opposite ends of Ohio! And our parents would have enjoyed watching our children grow up when we didn't live close by.

We gave cell phones to our granddaughters (don't judge!) when they were in elementary school for the sole purpose of them being able to get in touch with parents and grandparents when they needed to. They have restrictions on usage and are both very responsible. Truly, Jain and Sofia would both rather be outside playing — unlike a lot of their peers — than on their cell phones 24/7. Often the girls will call us as they're walking home from school just to say hello or tell us about their day. We delight in these snippets of conversation and know that being able to talk with them connects us across the miles.

Technology isn't perfect, and often Skyping is problematic — the picture pixilates, we hear them but can't see them, they see us but can't hear us, the image freezes, there's not a good signal in the house, etc. — but we relish the moments we can get together this way. Today's children are very visual, and Skyping is right up their alley. Jain and Sofia love to tell us all about their lives in California. Their friends, school work and grades, orchestra, sports, showing us things they've made, family news, making silly faces — all of this gets shared during our Skyping sessions. We Skype with our youngest granddaughter, Olivia, too, but that time is spent more talking to our son and daughter-in-law. Livi is still a bit young to focus her attention on engaging in conversation, but we delight in watching her grow up, in seeing the benchmarks of development from sitting and crawling to walking and running, and delighting us now with her playtime activities.

FaceTime via cell phone is our alternate way of communicating with extended family. Personally, I'd rather Skype, since the computer screen is larger. But in a pinch, FaceTime will do nicely. My sister has been sending Olivia cell phone videos nearly every day since Christmas as her way to stay in touch — often with her poodles "speaking" as well. It's hysterical, especially when she does this with the app called My Talking Pet. (Trust me, this app will provide hours of fun for your grandchildren!) Seth says she loves getting these videos and has asked us to send some, too. Naturally, we oblige. In turn, we receive video clips of Olivia in action.

I urge new parents to send video clips and photos of your children to all the grandparents and relatives, especially those who are far away. It is their only way to watch the children grow up on a daily or weekly basis. Grandparents, if you ever wonder whether your grandchild will recognize you the next time you visit one another, sharing videos and communication via Skype or Facebook will eliminate that concern. Naturally, interacting in person is the best way to get to know one another. But the use of technology is the next best thing.

Above all, as Grampy says,