I had a delightful experience this morning before I left for work: having breakfast with my granddaughter, Evelyn.
There was a time when this wouldn’t be such a remarkable event. For most of human history, families typically lived in close proximity across several generations. In many cases, extended families might live under the same roof.
The mobility made possible by the internal combustion engine brought many benefits, but one of downsides from a parental perspective is that children grow up and move away instead of raising their kids close to home. We’re happy for the opportunities, but we miss our babies (and their babies).
I’m now starting to appreciate the bittersweet moments we created for my parents when my wife Lisa and I moved to the Twin Cities (100 miles away) in the late 1980s, taking our two children with us in pursuit of gainful employment. And when we moved back home to Austin in 1994, with two more little girls (one of whom turned 20 today!) and a baby boy on the way, it was really special to be able to be close to their grandparents.
Still, during that eight-year period, I think my parents probably got to see our kids about every six weeks or so.
Now my two oldest kids are married, and my daughter Rachel and her husband have moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where Kyle is going to seminary. They have two children, Evelyn and Judah. Anyone who has been in one of my presentations has been introduced indirectly to Evie.
But I see Evie and Judah much more frequently than my parents saw our kids, even though we’re about 500 miles away.
This morning I had a really special experience that illustrates the power of technology to strengthen those family bonds weakened by distance. Through the magic of Skype (and I do mean magic), I had breakfast with Evie (click photos to enlarge):
Evie was having a bowl of oatmeal at her table in Grand Rapids at 8 a.m. her time, while I had my gluten-free Corn Chex at 7 a.m. my time in Austin, a nine-hour drive away.
For us, though, her breakfast with “Bapa Eeee” was just like being directly across the table from each other. And I think I speeded up her eating, because when Grandpa took a bite, so did she:
What applications can you see to enrich your life and work by using free videoconferencing?