Lunch With Grandma: Tomato Soup and Skype

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“Mom?” My six-year-old son put his head on my shoulder. “Yeah, bud?” I ask, rustling his hair. “I miss Grandma. When do we get to see her?” My heart hurts at his words. I grew up with both sets of grandparents living nearby, and I never experienced the dread of not seeing them for up to six months at a time.

My grandparents were no more than 30 minutes away when I was growing up. For many years, their houses were within walking distance from mine, and for a time, we actually lived with one set. I adored my grandparents, and I never got tired of spending time with them. Even as a teen, I enjoyed their company, and I loved hanging out with my aunts, uncles, and cousins, too.

My children live 3000 miles from their grandparents. At school programs and sporting events, they don’t have a row of family members cheering them on. Our emergency contacts are all friends, no relatives. My kids’ cousins aren’t their best friends, because their cousins are so far away. I love where we live, but the daunting span of an entire country keeping us from our family makes me terribly sad. I hate that my kids aren’t experiencing their loved ones the way that my husband and I did.

When we moved to Connecticut five years ago, I was worried that my children would need to be reintroduced to their relatives every time we went home to visit. My son was only one, and my daughter hadn’t even been born yet. It would be years before they could carry on a conversation on the phone, and I would still be doing most of the translating from kid-speak to understandable language. “I ollys do yayo,” my son would tell  his auntie on the phone. “Huh?” She was pretty sure he wasn’t talking about the street slang for cocaine, but couldn’t be sure. “He likes to color,” I would translate, “All colors are yellow. He always does yellow means he’s always coloring.” Even in person this one would be hard to figure out, but over the phone, it was impossible.

Then we began using Skype. We were able to chat with family members across the country, and now, five years later, my kids know their family members because they see them frequently. “Roovy!” my girl would exclaim, holding up a book with Ruby and her little brother Max on the cover. That was much easier to understand with the matching video. Now that she’s four, she chats with her grandma a couple times a week while eating a bowl of tomato soup, her favorite after preschool lunch.

My son can show off his Lego creations to his uncles, and Grandma can see the kids describe their art projects. The kids can have a dance party with a friend who  lives in Washington state, and they can have a virtual tea party wearing dress-up clothes. We get to see new family members within days of their birth, even if we don’t get to hold them until months later.

I was able to see the progress on my mom and stepdad’s home remodel because she gave me a tour with her laptop. My toddler niece and nephew recognize us because they get to see us regularly. When my husband or I are away from the kids, we can Skype before bed, and it helps us feel connected. 
I feel blessed that we live in a time that allows us to see loved ones even though we are so far apart, and I am thankful that if my kids can’t spend the night at Grandma’s every Friday night, they can at least chat with her face-to-face on a regular basis.

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4 thoughts on “Lunch With Grandma: Tomato Soup and Skype

  1. I've mentioned Skype before to my Mom and should again. My kids aren't always so keen on talking on the phone, but they do love screens. Somehow I think it would be right up their alley!

    1. My mom sometimes likes to just watch the kids play. After they visit for a bit, the kids wander off to the Legos, and she just sips her coffee with a smile on her face, watching her grandkids.

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