I’m 61 years old. I’m thinking about which generation I belong to. The one that sticks firmly to the pen and paper, or the one that is somewhat hooked on new technologies? In full honesty, the first option is much dearer to me. I tried to adapt to new trends to the absolutely necessary extent, but nothing can ever replace the softness of handwritten words. Similarly, I prefer to flip through the ages of a family photo album, rather than sliding through the phone, consuming at the blink of a moment an overwhelming amount of photographs.
Technology overwhelms me and I find it pours this uncontrollable amount of everything into our receptors. It blocks us in away. A photo album, in this example, doesn’t do that. It slows you down, it evokes memories, makes you relive the moments. Not that long ago, everyone on this album was here, together. Now, they live far away.
Life is amazing and strange at the same time.
My daughter and son in law made a difficult decision to go in search of a better life. They came to tell us their decision. We froze; shocked we barely managed to force ourselves and tried to make it easier on them, giving them support. We did understand, we did agree, but it did hurt. It was the right decision, life goes by, and staying here was not an option for them.
They needed to invest in their future and nothing good was happening to them here.
So they went, far away, too far for my worried mind. They chose Ireland, a beautiful country, but just so distant to me. I keep it to myself, but it feels like they are going to the end of the world. I find comfort in the fact that it’s not too difficult to hop on the plane and get there, to visit. They will be happy.
It’s been 5 years now and they are indeed happy. Everything is fine. They got a beautiful daughter, she’s three.
In all of this, what used to be my big fear, the technology, became my rescue. We skype daily. I can see them, we can do so much. We were able to watch our little granddaughter since day one. It’s really priceless to be able to participate, to remember her first bath, her first sounds, all the adorable moments saved and we were blessed to be included in so many. We soaked up all the love and weren’t left out at all.
The time flew.
They visited us, we visited them. Each visit seemed to last as long as the blink of an eye. That’s what happens to beautiful moments. It took us months to recover after each goodbye.
My granddaughter has grown so much.
Video calls helped us build and preserve the relationship
We skype with her every day and have the most amazing conversations. These have become important rituals for all of us. I never dreamed that I’ll be able to get little kisses from my granddaughter even though she is so far away. She blows the kisses, she takes the phone and gently gives us hugs and I guess our feelings and brains give us this favor in letting us feel all of that on the skin. It is very vivid and real for us.
We even do the tickles. We act as tickling her and her mum helps, but actually tickling and she laughs and laughs and understands. It’s all lots of fun. She tells us all about her friends from the crèche, she shows her wounded knees when she falls and it’s all very important for her and for us.
She sings to us, asks us which song we want, and tries very hard to reward us with a song in Croatian, since as she says: „Grandma, you can’t speak English“.
It is just amazing what this little piece of technology allows us to do.
I would recommend a few and lovely activities to anyone whose grandchildren are far away.
Even if you can’t see them due to social distancing, I believe the sooner you start video calling the better you’ll all get at it and less you will miss out on.
Here are 12 activities you should not miss out on if you can do video calls:
1. Ask your grandchildren to sing to you. When they do, award them with big smiles and claps.
2. Tell them a story, a fairy tale, give it a special spin. You might have to keep the stories short and efficient at the beginning, as the little ones start getting used to the video calls.
3. Ask them about their dreams. If the dream was scary, you can help to comfort and explaining.
4. Admire their drawings and ask for a special drawing. They can draw you and you can both comment on it.
5. While their mum tries to feed them veggies, talk to them, and explain how strong they’ll be, how long the hair will grow, how smart they’ll be if they eat.
6. If you do crochet or other craft, make something for them, like a nice pair of socks. Even if you don’t send them, just showing that you are making something for them, teach your grandchildren how loved they are and that they are a part of your life.
7. Cheer for them as they kick the ball with their dad.
8. Pretend to be blowing the soap bubble they are making for you and ask for more. It becomes very real for them.
9. Show them the toy they forgot at your place, when they visited, you can recall the mutual memories.
10. Dance with them.
11. Let them show you their routines, bed time one, for example.
12. Encourage them to make you a special card. Kids love to get creative.
There are a thousand ways to make your connection with your family strong, even though they are far away. And you should know: children will remember!
About the Author
Gordana Čolić lives in Bosnia and Herzegovina. She writes poems and prose including short stories. Her writing relies on her inner life as much as her love for the family and the people that surround her.
Throughout 40 years, along with her career in public service and raising her family, Gordana has written a collection of over 200 short stories and poems.