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Long Distance Visits

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Through the magic of the Internet, Husband and I visit our Grands who live across the country, close to the Rocky Mountains.  We sit in front of our computer, click a Face Time icon and wait to see Dan, age 2 ½, and Neil, 8 months.

“Hey, Dan.  Look who’s on the computer!” says Son, as he comes into focus on our computer screen.

I hear Dan running before he comes into view.  Big smile, open mouth.  I could count his teeth if he were still for just a few seconds.  “Hi Gran! Hi Pop!”  My heart melts just hearing him call my name.  Son prompts him to tell us about a recent trip to the zoo and what he ate for supper.   Then Neil appears beside Dan.   A happy, smiling baby.   Daughter-in-law turns him around so we can see his curly hair on the back of his head, and then he crawls across the carpet toward a red ball.

Sometimes Dan shows us tricks like turning a somersault or throwing his basketball through his four-foot goal. And sometimes he has a new matchbox car to show, but mostly he plays.  Neil usually sits in one of his parents’ lap.  Daughter-in-law and Son talk with Husband and me, but we rarely see them.  They keep the camera focused on our Grands.  I’m happy – happy to watch.

Recently, one Sunday night one of our Grands, Elaine who lives just across town visited Husband and me, and I had the great idea that she and Dan, who are the same age, would like to see each other through Face Time.  All went well in the beginning.  Elaine sat in my lap quietly; she’s not accustomed to seeing her cousins and uncle and aunt on a computer screen.  Dan said, “Hi Elaine.”  She sucked her thumb.  Dan held a green matchbox car so that it filled the computer screen.  Elaine jumped down from my lap, ran to the playroom, and brought back a black car to show Dan.

Back and forth, Dan and Elaine showed each other toys.  A blue car.  A yellow school bus.  A tennis ball.  A big colorful striped ball.  My heart was full.  These two cousins were hundreds of miles apart and having fun together.  Elaine showed Dan a red truck and he collapsed into a two-year-old melt down.  His happy face turned into tears and amid his sobbing I heard, “Go. Pop’s. Gran’s.”

I wanted to stretch my arms through the paths of the Internet, wrap my arms around Dan, wipe his tears, and give him the red truck.  Son hugged Dan, but there was no consoling.  Elaine dropped the truck. Thankfully, Husband caught it before it hit the computer.  We said our good-byes quickly and signed off.  “Dan come to Pop’s and Gran’s?” Elaine asked.

How can toddlers understand that they can see and talk to someone, but can’t visit right that minute?   Dan wouldn’t come to visit that night, but another time.  And sometime we’ll go see Dan and Neil and their parents.  Until then, we see each other on computers.

You have to be a grandparent to appreciate that a highlight of my week is to stare at our computer screen and watch Dan line up matchbox cars on a windowsill and see Neil crawl across the floor.


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