Grandparents and Social Media go together like oil and water–except when it comes to FaceTime. That’s where we grandparents are more than willing to blend modern technology with our resistance to change.
I say “we” because of personal experience. Against our natural instincts, my wife and I have taught ourselves the ins and outs of FaceTime over the last three years as four granddaughters have made their appearance in quick succession. They all live on the west coast and we go see them as often as we can but occasional visits aren’t the same as living within driving distance. We grieve often over how much of their lives we’re missing.
FaceTime is the next best thing to being with grandchildren
FaceTime is the answer. An amazing technology on the iPhone platform, FaceTime allows real-time video interaction with people you love no matter where they are. It’s the perfect way for long-edistance grandparents to stay in touch with their grandchildren and the next best thing to being there with them.
There are problems, of course, and the many negative stories that recently have come out regarding FaceBook makes it easy in the eyes of many to suspect all Social Media and throw out the good with the bad.Multiple data breaches have exposed the personal information of tens of millions of users. Numerous studies have demonstrated its negative psychological impact. Criminals have publicized their actions through it to gain a sick notoriety. Even the business model as a whole has been called into question since Facebook’s profit margin comes from harvesting personal data and selling it to advertisers.
But I’m confident that I’m speaking for grandparents everywhere that when it comes to watching videos of my granddaughters singing in their Christmas program, showing me their new dress or demonstrating the pirouette they learned at ballet class–count me in. I’m willing to run the risk.
A FaceTime visit with grandchildren can be exhausting
I don’t want to give the impression that a FaceTime visit with my granddaughters is easy. Not because of the two oldest–they’re mature enough to carry on a semi-normal conversation. But when it comes to the two younger ones, that’s a different story. They’re each one year old and in the blink of an eye can suck me from a sweet grandfather moment into the lunatic world that toddlers live in. Somtimes I feel I’m Alice fallen down the rabbit hole, only with more noise and greater confusion.
Reilly, my son’s youngest and third overall in birth order, is a sweet and obedient child. Except when she’s not– and all it takes is the sight of a phone in her daddy’s hand to flip the switch. I often wonder what environmental contaminant has so altered modern childrens’ DNA that they not only want a phone soon after birth but also know intuitively how to operate one.
After a brief wrestling match soon after I call, my son yields the phone to her and she looks me in the eye. I watch as her mind works to formulate a sentence. Then she cuts loose in a long series of syllables, words and sounds that resemble English enough to make my head hurt trying to decipher it. A few minutes of baby gibberish is all my middle-aged sensibilities can take so I say goodbye until next time.
Brynn, grandaughter No. 4, follows a more chaotic approach. She seizes the phone from her Mom as soon as she hears my name and holds it so close to her face that her nostrils appear as great dark holes–not a pleasant sight during cold season–then gives me a tour of her house. She thinks I forget where she lives during the intervals between calls.
Brynn does nothing at half speed so our tour isn’t restful. She runs full-tilt, missing corners, bouncing off walls and crawling through the doggie door. She squeals, laughs and jabbers to herself. Two or three times she falls down while holding onto the phone, making me even more dizzy than she seems to be. As she careens around the house I catch an occasional glimpse of her older sister watching tv or her mom calmly fixing dinner. Her behavior doesn’t seem to bother them.
When I’ve had all the grandfather fun I can handle I hang up. When I call next time I’m sure we’ll pick up where we left off.
FaceTime and grandparents are a match made in heaven
Those moments are no substitute for being with our granddaughters in person, but they’re a far cry from simple telephone calls or letters. For those of us who don’t live as near to the people we love as we’d like, grandparents and FaceTime are a match made in heaven.