Our son and family live 3 hours away from us. They have young children, Ella who is 5-years-old and Owen who is 6-years-old. I drive to their house every 3 weeks to spend the weekend with them. When COVID first entered our world in March of this year, we, of course, stopped those visits, both for the safety of our health and of theirs. It was hard. Not seeing them or hugging them.
Sure, we called them but they’re 5 and 6. They weren’t interested in talking on the phone. It was hit or miss with the success of those calls.
Fast-forward to now, October (fast-forward simply being a figure of speech, since we all know there has been nothing “fast” about the days moving quickly these past months)….
Owen and Ella not only attend virtual school, but they also attend their taekwondo and Awana classes online. They know how to join Zoom meetings and how to end them, they know how and when to use the mute button, and they know how to get their teachers’ attention without interrupting the entire class.
All of that means they are much more willing and interested in talking to me online. It’s not unusual anymore. Communicating online is their new normal.
Ella video-calls me nearly every day. Sometimes she will miss a day; sometimes she will call 5 times in one day. We color “together,” eat lunch “together,” and sometimes I read her stories. Owen wants to video-call from his Dad’s cell phone so we can play games together.
While there is absolutely nothing that replaces a face-to-face visit, video-chatting is the next best thing. We’re still building a relationship, and I still get to see them and hear the funny and sweet things they say.
Today, at the end of my video call with Ella, I reminded her that I would see her soon. She responded:
“Gama, the next time we meet will be Halloween. We will meet at my house. And I will look out the window and see your car and say, ‘OWEN, GAMA’S HERE!”
I smiled. I felt warm inside. Yes, video calls are good, but even a 5-year-old knows there’s nothing like an in-person visit.
My very best wishes to all, but today, especially, I am thinking of grandparents.