Skype Hype: The Difficult Part of this Simple Communication Option
If you are not familiar with Skype, it is any easy and free way to talk to your kids and grandkids by video chatting over the internet. All you need is a web camera that attaches to your computer or a laptop with a built-in camera. When you “Skype” with your grandkids, they can see and hear you, and you can see and hear them. To get started, visit www.skype.com to set up an account and make sure that your kids do the same. The only hard part?…Finding the time to talk.
When my oldest grandson was born a bit over four years ago, my husband and I assuaged the long-distance blues of having our grandson living 815 miles away by engaging in weekly Skype sessions. The first few months, we simply adored the baby from afar, as our daughter held him in front of the camera.
As he grew, we had something akin to conversations. We asked question after question, and he smiled, nodded his head, and sometimes even uttered a word. Eventually, he matured enough for us to have real conversations on camera. He told us about his day at “school” (the preschool), fun with his friends, and his favorite foods. I bought duplicate books so he could turn the pages on his end while I read from my end.
We enjoyed our weekly Skype time.
Then came my second grandson and the end of Skype time. With a little one in one arm and doing all she could to wrangle a three-year-old who preferred wrestling with the dog over sitting in front of the web camera, my exhausted daughter stopped Skyping. “It’s just too hard,” she said.
And what could I say about that? Nothing.
So, we don’t Skype anymore, and I turn various shades of green each time I read about another grandparent’s Skype sessions with little ones. He must have only one grandchild, I think. Or her grandkids are older and able to stay focused on Skyping with Grandma instead of the fun to be had in the other room.
I miss Skyping with my first grandson. I miss having the opportunity for the same thing with my second grandson. I miss communication on a regular basis with either of them.
Sure, there are phone calls. My oldest grandson is pretty good about talking to Grandma on the phone. We can discuss this and that…for about three minutes, then he’s off and running. My youngest grandson likes to get in on the action, too. Conversations with him usually involve him hanging up on Grandma as he grabs the phone from Mommy. If I’m lucky, he gets in a “baaah” or “Mama” before hitting the “end” button.
There is, of course, the option of the FaceTime application on Apple products such as the iPhone and iPad. From what I hear, it’s easy and awesome. FaceTime is how many grandparents I know stay in touch with their grandkids. It’s how my son-in-law talks to his sons, my grandsons, from work on a regular basis. I have an iPhone—an older version that doesn’t support FaceTime. So no FaceTime for me and my grandsons. At least not yet.
So what do I do? I buy plane tickets to see my grandsons live and in person as often as possible, which I couldn’t live without, but is far more expensive than the free Skype. I will just have to accept that at this point in time, Skype is too hard for my daughter to manage and too difficult for my grandsons to stay focused on long enough to talk.
So, for now, this is not a good communication option for our family. However, I am going to try be patient with those on the other end and hope that we will be back to Skyping in the near future. In the meantime, we will just have to communicate the old-fashioned way, with occasional visits and (hopefully) frequent phone calls.
Lisa Carpenter is a writer and blogger specializing in topics related to grandparenting and parenting adult children. She publishes the Grandma’s Briefs website and can be followed on Twitter and Facebook.