I cannot tell a lie. Being far away from my grandson, Shua, can be heartbreakingly hard. I read about my friends who babysit or see their grandchildren regularly, and I feel twinges of sadness. While I made a willing life change to marry and move to Michigan, I know I'm missing so many moments with my grandson.
To my wonderful daughter-in-law's credit - my grandson knows me. She reminds him constantly about "G-bubs" (the cool tech-sounding handle I chose for myself - and he jabbers about G-bubs and frequently asks for me and "Saba-David."
So last night, when she asked if we could Skype, I was so happy. There he was, my sweet little Shua, chowing down on spaghetti, the computer a few feet away. "What do you have?" I asked him. "Pasta," he showed me, shoving a handful of spaghetti towards the screen, then into his mouth. "Yum!" I exclaimed. He smiled.
After a few minutes of watching him, it suddenly occurred to me that I didn't hear or see my daughter-in-law bustling around in the background. Not that it worried me. I was enjoying the experience of sharing the dinner hour with Shua.
As time ticked away, I decided to play. We did his favorite games - "Open - Shut Them," and I leaned my head toward the camera for "Bim - Bam - Butz." "Butz!" he shouted, bending his head forward. "Again!" he beseeched, joyously between pasta bites, and I eagerly complied. More time went by and the pasta was slowly disappearing from his high chair tray. No sound or sight of my daughter in law. I felt like I was babysitting! Or more accurately, Skype-sitting! How cool was this?
He nodded his head at me. I nodded mine. He shook his head from side to side. I followed suit, enjoying the game we had invented. I started playing around with the Skype features. Using the webcam effects, I discovered a pencil effect, a tiny paintbrush that allows you to draw designs right on the Skype screen. As Shua watched me soberly, I drew a beluga whale on the screen. Then I multi-tasked, went to Youtube and found his favorite song. "Look who's come to visit!" I told him. "It's Baby Beluga."
As Raffi launched into the song, which he could only hear, I used the webcam effects to make bubbles come out of the whale's mouth and spout. When the song ended, I made the whale disappear.
"Again!" came the excited reply from Shua, who was able to watch me - and the drawing I'd done on the screen - and listen to the music. This was fun. I found the A-B-C song - another of Shua's favorites. As they sang, I scribbled the A-B-C's on the screen. Next was the Sesame Classic Rubber Ducky, accompanied, of course, by a yellow duck, quickly scribbled on the screen. Raffi's hit, "Mr. Sun" was an easy yellow circle with rays coming out from every angle. Shua was mesmorized. "Again, again," he clamored. I pulled a few more tricks out of my hat, when I realized I had been Skype-sitting for 47 minutes!
When my daughter-in-law appeared, she was flustered and she apologized. "I wasn't feeling well - I nodded off," she said.
"Anytime you want to leave him with me, I'm game!" I told her.
How cool is it that I was able to babysit Shua all the way from Lakeland, Michigan. Gotta love technology.