Saturday, 31 August 2013

Grandparenting at a Distance

I would like to introduce you to Barbara Burkard my dear friend and guest blogger on The Adventures of Grandpa and Grandma Snyder.

 Never Far From Our Hearts

The day Mina was born her father had his first interview with Apple Computers. She was four months old when she and her Mom joined her Dad in California. I was very disappointed, but this was my son-in-law's dream job, so what could I do but wish them well?
Four Generations
We've tried to keep a pattern of visits four times a year. I've gone to California twice and Trina and Mina have come to Ontario twice. (Gary usually makes only the Christmas trip. This year, as Trina was nearly eight months pregnant she did not come in June.) Honestly, the visits to California are the best as I get a lot of Mina-time. When the family comes to Ontario they have a full schedule of visits to family and friends, so I get less time with my best girl.

Thus much of my relationship with Mina has been online. I thank God for the wonderful technologies that are available to us now! It is still astounding to me that I can see and talk to my kids in real time even when they are 4,000 km away. And, using FaceTime or Skype, it doesn't cost me anything beyond my computer and internet connection. We have had marathon sessions, like the time I 'babysat' Mina for three hours while her parents assembled an Ikea bed. Of course, they were within earshot the whole time and available to intervene when necessary, nonetheless, talking to Gramma helped to keep Mina out from under foot.  

From about age 18 months to 3 years Mina often did not want to talk to Gramma on the computer. She would initially cry and run away and hide, though she'd come later to talk.That was quite hard for me, but, thankfully, it didn't last.

While the distance thing is a little hard to understand when you are little, Mina has now learned that "Gramma is too far away," to really play the way we'd like to. But that never hurt imagination! We still play games like "Captain Hook Gramma" wherein Mina sets a toy in front of the iPad and pretends that Captain Hook Gramma won't let her have it. Now, at nearly four, she very often has our games all scripted out, so I just have to follow her lead. 

With the ease of taking "home movies" these days (especially when one works for Apple) I get frequent videos of Mina's activities. This has really helped me feel connected. I've been able to watch her grow. Earlier this year Trina sent me a recording of her baby's heart beat (picture only, audio file not attached).

Another way to nurture our relationship lately has been to send "Mina mail." Mina loves to get her own mail, so I try to send something every once in a while, a Canada Day keychain, doll clothes I made, a card. The postage is, I think, a small price to pay to help keep a connection healthy.

I envy people that have grandchildren nearby. But I have no intention of letting this important relationship suffer because of the miles between us. I do hope that the family will return to Ontario someday, in the meantime I will use every means available to maintain a close relationship to Mina and her new brother, Volker.
My grandkids

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