As summer winds down, I reflect on my grandchildren returning to school and the huge role technology plays in their days. Most of their lessons and information are sent to them in one electronic form or another.
I grew up with textbooks, no computer and a crank phone on a party line that closed each night at 9 pm. A phone was only used later than that in an extreme emergency.
The best present I ever got as a child was a switchboard in which I was the operator connecting people to their party. I couldn’t imagine connecting with my friends in real time then, but I probably would have relished being in touch with my friends the way my grandchildren are today.
Now its all about staying in touch with them. I wish I could wiggle my nose like Samantha Stevens did in Bewitched and teleport to my granddaughter's house, but at least we can connect by phone, no matter when or where we are.
The vanishing flip phone
Not so long ago, I was quite happy with my flip phone. It was compact and easy for me to use. I also enjoyed its budget friendly fees.
Then my youngest granddaughter began spending more time at home alone while her older sister worked and we started to talk a lot on our land lines. I’ve talked her through homework, minor wounds and tornado sirens. I became her personal helpline.
One day when she wanted me to see a problem she was struggling with for homework, I began to rethink the usefulness of a smart phone. My other three grandchildren were increasingly difficult to reach by phone call so I purchased an iPhone to interact with them whenever they had a need.
I'm just beginning to discover the wizardry of how my smart phone brings me closer to my grandchildren.
- I have more ways to be there for them. It may not be with a phone call - more likely we text or FaceTime. Oftentimes, all they need is to hear a loving voice or see a text that says you’re rooting for them.
- My husband and I can virtually attend their events when we can't be there in person. Seeing their choir concerts, football games, track meets and robotic events is a blessing I can’t put a dollar amount on.
- We can see things together in the blink of a eye. if she's having trouble with an assignment, she can take a picture and text it to me so I can see what she is working on.
In an interesting turn of events, the grandchild for whom I am the helpline is quite a computer wizard and has become my tech support. I just start saying what I am confused about and she immediately knows how to help me solve my problem.
The future of technology is astonishing. I told my granddaughter that not so far in the future we would be able to wiggle our noses and be together in a matter of seconds. Whatever spells we can weave with the gadgets of tomorrow, I have learned to stay up to date with technology so I can stay close to the ones I love the most and keep in touch with the world.
This Grandparents Day, consider trying a new way to connect with your grandchildren. It worked for me.
About the author
Guest author Bonnie VanDeVelde is a retired Radiologic Technologist (aka X-ray technician) and has been the support for her husband David and her children Amy and Michael for 48 years. She also provided superior end of life support for her parents and her in-laws, whom she adored. Bonnie currently enjoys time spent with her neighbors and her family. She is a voracious reader and enjoys writing rhyming tribute poetry. Her tribute poem to her career as an X-ray technician was published by the Illinois Society for Radiologic Technologists in 2011.