Friday, July 5, 2013

Face-timing with Mimi

We live two states away from our children's grandparents, and it can be really hard sometimes.  Not only do we not have the support of family nearby, we also miss out on a lot of little moments where the kids are growing and learning and changing and Greg and I are watching it alone.

At the same time, it makes our trips to Maine to see family extra special events that we look forward to and talk about long afterwards.  

We're also lucky to live in a time where technology is an amazing tool for staying connected.  I email my parents, my in-laws, and even my grandparents' and Greg's grandmother photos of the kids on a regular basis.

We call often, and both sets of grandparents have an i-phone so they can Face-time with Will.

I am all about minimizing Will's screen time (he doesn't watch any t.v.) but when Will face-times with Mimi and I listen to them while I make dinner, I realize that this is the opposite of stereotypical screen time where a child is passively entertained.  They talk about their day, Will asks to see things in Mimi's house, and she walks all around and shows him things, pausing for him to process them, and then talks about them.

Will puts the phone places and plays hide and seek with her.  Mimi shows him the collection of plastic beads he likes to play with at her house, and pretends to push them through the phone.  "I got it!" I've heard Will exclaim.  "Can you send the white one, next?"  

Their conversations are filled with creativity and imagination, and real connection.  Whether Mimi is getting a ride on Will's firetruck, or showing him what her pets are doing, I know he's thinking and interacting and working on both his creative and his social skills.  

Here's what Mimi said to me about it recently in an e-mail:

When I FaceTime with Will, I often think of Mr. Rogers and how he would show something and then just let his audience look at it awhile to process it and then ask a question or say something about what he was thinking or feeling.

I try to remember to do this with Will: show all the steps when going to the attic, up the stairs, past Merry, close the door, pull down the stairs, turn on the light . . . Push the beads (imaginative play) through the phone.

You get it.

It can make for better quality screen time, I think, than just a talking head.

In today's tech, we need to practice ways to make things slow down and have more meaning.

Will is so into it that he's taught some of Mimi's tricks to his other grandparents, who now get asked to push things through the phone when they're face-timing with him!

All I know, is that it compensates a little for the hole in my heart that exists when you raise your kids apart from your own family.  It also can make a big difference in my ability to get dinner on the table without any tears.

And whenever we visit Maine, there's no question that Will and Andrew have an extremely close relationship with all their Maine family, despite the distance.  I think the phone calls, the face-times, and the postcards and mail my family sends all help.

Mimi takes Will up the bleachers for his first baseball game on a recent trip to Maine

Will's Nana is a former school teacher - she's got some great tricks up her sleeve too for connecting to kids and teaching them creativity :)  He sure loves spending time with her.

A special trip to my Dad's parents' camp with both sets of grandparents - moments we cherish 

Grampa has a lot more bravery and patience than I do!

Gardening with their great-grandmother on a week long trip to Maine in June

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