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Why visiting my grandbabies via Google Chat is way better than not

January 14, 2014

So instead of having the kids and grandkids come over on Sunday afternoon, we have to chat on Google.

Instead of nuzzling soft cheeks and planting grandma kisses, we admire new smiles and don’t mind when the one who needs a nap finally succumbs.

Instead of a hug and Sunday dinner, we content ourselves with the fact that we can be in one visual/virtual space at the same time.

What’s my point?

Gathering by Google chat is way better than not having that option. Especially if you have two really newish grandbabies who are in different cities that you long to see and touch and cuddle.

My daughters are doing a great job of sending random photos, forwarded from Daddy at home to Mommy at work to Grandmas and Grandpas hungry for any glimpse.

SamPlayTime3MoJamesAtOneMonthSam, top; James, bottom.

They send short videos of coos and “tummy/play time” which also helps.

About once a month, if no personal visit is planned, we aim to gather by Skype video connection if there are just two hook ups involved, or Google Chat if there are three or more. Since my daughter in grad school is in the same town as one family, that helps.


This past Sunday was the first time we all got together from three locations which isn’t easy to schedule, even then. For one, we don’t have a fast enough Internet connection at home for reasonable video hook up so we have to be in town at my office. The hitch on the other end is babies who are not nursing, not napping, and in a relatively happy mood.

So what do we get by Google Chat that is better than phone? (and no this is not a paid advertisement).

  • I am reminded of all the ways that babies are so good at communicating their various needs to their parents, if you can figure out the wahs. Do short firm wahs mean I’m tired, I’m hungry, I’m wet, I just need to suck on something, I’m bored, I’m lonely, or what?
Baby Sam, getting wah-y. Also observe Mommy's face.

Baby Sam, getting wah-y. Also observe Mommy’s face.

  • I get to see my other (currently-in-grad-school) daughter who has just spent two evenings babysitting her little nephew, who is getting great baby practice and love: Sam will likely think SHE is the grandma. No, just a great loving aunt. What every baby needs plenty of in addition to grandparents.
  • I get to watch them watch a playoff game in which they have mild, not passionate interest.


  • I get to watch James, the six-week-old happily gazing around his world, securely cradled by his mom. He lays back, stares, his eyes settle on something else, he wiggles, he listens to his grandparents’ and aunties’ voices. We understand he probably doesn’t see much of us on the screen. Does he hear grandpa say, “Is that my grandson? This is grandpa” etc., brilliant lines like that.


  • We get to watch James’ interest pick up greatly when his daddy comes in the room and talks to him a few seconds and coaxes a little smile out of his son.
  • When Sam’s wah’s get more intense and I worry he will wake his daddy who has to sleep because of his work shift, Mommy reassures me the wah’s don’t really waft up to the master bedroom.
  • I get to watch a fussy baby, who has just come in from a nice long snuggle walk through the neighborhood, go from being normal fussy and tired, to sucking his pacifier, to falling asleep in his mother’s arms.


Later, I email my thanks for the get together (it still takes some arranging, like I said) and doesn’t take the place of long telephone chats where you can talk about complicated frustrations and hassles, or even long ago real letters where spilling one’s true guts is the medium of choice.

A visit, or cup of tea together, or having everyone over for Sunday dinner would be the best, but when that’s not possible, this will have to do. Thank you, ye gods of Google Chat.

Thank you more, ye God of the universe for these wonderful gifts of family, children and grandchildren.


What is your favorite or best way to communicate and connect with family members who live at a distance?


From → Faith, Family Life

  1. Caro - Claire Wiles permalink

    It is great that you have these opportunities to have these Google chats
    It may take some organization to get everyone together at the same time but I am sure you are all blessed to at least be able to see live action pictures of what is going on with the new babies and keep up with their progress.
    I am afraid i have not mastered this one yet as we have always had very slow internet connections and I am not sure I would know how to go about the set up now!.

    • Caro-Claire, it helps that I had to learn to use this technology for my job, too. But yeah, at home, we are slow …. and jerky for most videos. Not sure how an actual live session would work. Take care!

  2. Carmen permalink

    I am about to become a first time Grandmother to a baby that will be as far away in the world as s/he can be. I aim to be the best Skype grandma that there is! Sure it would be nicer to hold the baby in my arms, but thanks be to God that we have Skype at all (or Google chat). The missionary grandparents who have gone before us would tell us to be so very grateful for the togetherness that we can experience across the miles. It will reach from VA to Indonesia with love.

    • Carmen, first of all that’s very exciting news, and wow, Indonesia. I hope everything goes well. That would be pretty hard to be that far, but you are certainly not alone, either. I think of Gretchen with two kids (+ grandkids) in Africa, right? Anyway, thanks for commenting and yes, thanks for technology. All the best!

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