The New York Times today focused on grandparents' webcam visits with their grandchildren—virtual tea parties and virtual hugs. For grandparents who live countries apart or just hundreds of miles apart, there can be real benefits when children and grandparents have access to a computer that is hooked up to a webcam. Newer laptops do have built-in webcams.
The NY Times article talked about a virtual tea party where the grandchild could offer apple juice rather than tea, and noted that “Sherry Turkle, a psychologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, worries that ever-more-real virtual encounters (holograms may be next) could make us forget what we are missing in the case of a grandchild: the smell of a grandmother’s cooking, the warmth of an embrace. In interviews, older grandchildren who video chat with grandparents say they visit them less, feeling that they have already ‘seen’ them.”
That made me feel nostalgic. Of course, holidays will do that. Here’s what I remember about the many days and hours I spent with my grandparents:
- In season, strawberry shortcake for breakfast, lunch and dinner. With real whipped cream.
- Bread. Fresh from the oven with butter melting into it. And strawberry or raspberry jam or currant jelly.
- Feeling frightened when I was to collect eggs from under the hens and feeling relieved when my grandmother told me I did not have to do it again. (Was it the broken eggs after I dropped the basket that got me out of that one?)
- Playing Canasta and Solitaire with my grandmother – by the hour. Learning to read and being encouraged to read a book a day. OK, so we started out with Erle Stanley Gardner. I soon found the library.
- Learning to make my own clothes. Does anybody do that anymore?
- Riding without seat belts or safety seats in a Jeep while Mom took produce from Grandpa’s farm to the Farmer’s Market to sell.
- Running through the tall asparagus gone to seed, chasing pheasants.
- Sitting in an apple tree and throwing apples at the neighbor boys.
- My own radio, and the Green Hornet to listen to while falling asleep.
- Hearing a loud noise in the middle of the night; kneeling on the window seat to see if the neighbor was mowing his lawn before I figured out that it was Grandpa snoring in the room down the hall.
- Sunday dinners. Always chicken. You don’t want to know about the chicken-killing stump. Dumplings, fresh vegetables grown in the garden, and apple pie.
Somehow, I think it would be difficult to capture the sights, the sounds, the smells, the feel and the taste of many of those experiences today. Certainly there are not many grandmothers like that anymore. And then I had another grandmother (my mother's mother). She wore combat boots. I am her namesake. I will write a tribute to her another day.
See the New York Times: Grandma’s on the Computer Screen