Yesterday, Charlotte, my 7 and ¾ years old granddaughter, called me on the phone. She wanted to know if I had time to FaceTime with her. She had a project in her bedroom for which she wanted my advice. I said sure.
For the next two hours and ten minutes, I was in her room with her, albeit on an iPad. She had brought some new items into her room and wanted help as to where to store them. Organizing her room was a giant project she and I took on last fall and I have since helped her “tidy up” every visit I have made to their Washington home. Charlotte desperately wants a clean and orderly room and is working to develop the habits to make that happen. Ah, youth.
Soon into the conversation we got the project solved, but we meandered to topics from the Unicorn Academy book series she’s reading to her new hairstyle. I told her a couple of stories of my childhood — and so did she. We talked about a story we’re writing together, mailing the notebook pages back and forth to each other. We talked about the galaxy and recent gifts from her Aunt Julie and magic tricks.
We laughed, we fooled each other, she showed off some gyrations she can do, and when we were talking about her baby brother I had to stifle a grin when she declared “He’s got a mind of his own!” She sounded more like a mom than a big sister.
Charlotte and I are both big conversationalists so talking for over two hours comes naturally. And this two hour and ten-minute session isn’t even a record. During the last year, her Grandpa and I spent 2 ½ hours one afternoon on FaceTime with her when she was sick. She had the family’s iPad in her bed and while we were talking to her, playing games, reading books, and keeping her company, she never left her bedroom. Her parents would pop in occasionally to make sure all was well, but they were glad her germs were staying in her room and not going to her siblings.
As much as I love video chatting with all my four grandchildren as a group (which is usually how it is), this one-on-one time yesterday was so delicious. Pure conversational banter, back and forth. She didn’t have to worry about getting interrupted; I didn’t have to be concerned with giving all the children equal attention during a session.
As we ended the FaceTime session yesterday, I couldn’t help but think back to when Charlotte was a baby and I was panicked at the idea that I could never be close to my granddaughter because of the thousands of miles between us. But happily, I’m closer to her than many grandparents whose grandchild is a short drive away. That’s thanks to my son and peach-of-a-daughter-in-law who have welcomed us into their home whether through the front door … or via a flat screen.
Those early FaceTime or Skype sessions with Charlotte, while always precious to me, sometimes took effort as we worked to engage her and entertain her via video chat as a baby, toddler, preschooler, and then a young child. But that involvement over the years has paid off. As she now expertly flips her iPad around to show me things in her room and we talk and act silly and share our lives, I marvel at the relationship I have with this darling.
Life is good, and I especially needed to feel that yesterday, Day #20 of sheltering in place.
Have you experienced big changes in video chatting as your grandchildren age? Please share your experience in the Comments section below.
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