My secret Skyper navigating an iPad
Skype is not a telephone call: We don't video-call our grown children or Grands without warning. That would be a visual and virtual intrusion into their personal space.
So goes my good-sense rule for proper Skype etiquette. We here in our household adhere to it faithfully: Paterfamilias because he doesn't know how to Skype (he hasn't loaded it onto any of his e-devices; no one's helped him out yet) and me because, well, I wrote the rule. But there are outliers--rogue Skypers to whom this admonition does not apply.
My secret Skyper is a case in point. I was sitting at my computer editing a story one morning when the Skype ring sounded. It announced that my daughter-in-law was calling. She's never Skyped me. Doesn't really like the whole Skype thing--three children, she says, are two too many for a Skype call. So there must be a pressing reason for her call.
I press the "answer" button right away and onto my screen hoves a five-year old, momentarily upside down but smiling. She turns the iPad around and there she is right-side up, my youngest Grand, the one I usually get to spend the least amount of time with. She is a pre-reader but there's little she doesn't know about navigating the icons on her mother's iPad. She had clicked on Skype, saw my photo [I'm one of two Skype connections my son-in-law set up for his sister-in-law on her iPad) and voila, there I was.
What a precious time it was for me, who lives some 400 miles away from her. I spent half an hour chatting with her, one on one, just the two of us--no big sister or brother to answer for her, interrupt her chit-chat or demand a turn. She showed me how she had imitated a dog in drama class in kindergarten (woof!), she ran and got her spiderman mask and put that on, she gave me details about the family's canoe trip (she did not paddle). At some point in our chat, her mother wandered by and asked who she was talking to--one of her voice-activated games? "I'm talking to PenPen," she announced.
That was not the end of my secret Skyper. Later that day while I was out buying something for dinner, my iPhone's Skype rang and there she was again, ready to share some more of her thoughts--and a little more of that Spiderman mask. (I got to show her the rows of cereal and bins of apples at the store. Otherwise, our conversation was brief: a Whole Foods is not the best place to chat up a five-year-old.)
I await more Skype time with her--whenever she deigns to tap my Skype button. It is our little private way of communicating--something we share that doesn't include anyone else; something she does that her brother and sister don't. The Skype rules of etiquette have no relevance here. "Intrusive" is not a word to apply to a five-year-old's impromptu visit with a grandparent. The rules are for my generation--the ones who are tiptoeing around their grown children's lives and hoping not to make a social media faux pas. When it comes to Grands, it is not a two-way street.
But I do have secret-Skyper competition. After we hung up, my littlest Grand pressed the other Skype button on the iPad and rang up her uncle--the very one who had set up Skype on the iPad in the first place. He says he was delighted to get her call. Only hitch: He and my daughter are living in Berlin. It was midnight there when she called.