How Technology Assists Grandparenting in the Age of Covid-19
In normal times, my children fly into my life in Miami like the wind, often resembling a soft and balmy breeze, though at times their visits can feel more like a hurricane. They bring precious cargo, my 10 grandchildren, who fill every space in my house – and also my heart – with pleasure and laughter.
They remind me of the urgency of little ones, their wants and needs and their wonder and delight in the simplest of things. My house becomes small in their presence. They fill up and own every space they choose to enter just like their parents did before them.
Now these visits have had to stop. Two of my daughters live in Singapore, my son lives in Georgia, and my eldest in Ottawa, Canada. The consolation is that even if they lived close by, I still would not be able to see them in person.
… And We’re Locked In
With the advent of Covid-19, the biggest expression of love and caring that we can offer our loved ones is to stay away from them. To be home and stay home. In my case, that’s where the Internet comes to the rescue.
Being able to see their faces, I feel so fortunate to be living in this current technological age that gives me access to immediate forms of communication like Skype, Zoom, Facetime, and WhatsApp to keep in touch and current with their present realities, and mine.
Using Technology to Give and Express Love
I pat myself on the back for having embraced working with my computer many years ago and now feel very comfortable with the many uses that I give it daily.
“Mr. Google” is my good friend. Facebook may have issues, but for me, it is a way to connect with friends all around the world and see what they post about their interests and opinions.
With Instagram I can share the work I do in my studio not only with my family but also with people who come to check out my latest work.
My son kiddingly tells me, “Mom, you have entirely too much technology,” when I tell him about my newest gadget or app. He doesn’t fool me.
I know he’s also proud that I know how to use my gizmos and use them I do, mainly to be connected with my tribe and the rest of my family and friends – even those who live in the same time zone – some a few minutes away but now living in isolation.
My new way of life consists of offering the littlest ones in Singapore a class called “Art with Abu,” short for Abuela – Grandma in Spanish. When they visit, they love to spend time in my studio, so the next best thing is getting a video narrated and drawn by me with a simple project to complete.
Then their parents make a video to show me the results with the child in question proudly displaying their drawing or painting while they describe how they completed it. They look forward to getting my video in the morning.
I have transferred the weekly creative writing class that I teach in person to Zoom where we can see and listen to each other’s stories for around an hour and a half. I have taught many reticent seniors to get online and join our fun meetings now that we can’t do it in person.
It is such a joy for me to see their happy expressions when they connect and see their classmates on their screens and for a while forget loneliness and worry. By popular demand, we are now meeting twice a week.
The class extends to the budding authors in my own family, and I love to hear the stories that I assign to them. Eva, one of my twin granddaughters in Canada, used Facetime last week to ask if I knew the song “Fly me to the Moon” and then proceeded to sing it for me with her sweet crystal-clear voice.
I taught her “Itsy bitsy teeny weenie yellow polka dot bikini,” and we giggled while I played it on Spotify and sang it with her. Little moments like that are super special for me and for the kids.
Computer Skills Finally Pay Off
My grandchildren know that we have to postpone visits for a while, but there is a bond that my children and I have worked very hard to establish and maintain which involves much more than letting a pandemic distance us and keep us from being part of each other’s lives.
Thanks to my experience with the Internet I was fully prepared for this Covid-19 situation of social distancing. I am never alone for long. Love comes in many forms. For me at the moment, it resides in my trusty Mac where all the people I care for hang out these days. All I have to do is open my laptop.
How do you connect with your grandchildren in this time of self-isolation? What do you do with them? What interesting projects have you completed together? What tools do you use the most and what do you think about their usefulness? Please share with the rest of our confined ladies!