Maddie, my youngest granddaughter, was four last week. Thanks to FaceTime, I sang her ‘Happy Birthday’ and sat in during some excitable present opening.
All further presents were ignored when she opened a package containing a family of little toy mice. She belted down the passage between sitting room and dining room (otherwise known as the kitchen) to her doll’s house, where the mice were introduced to their fellow inmates (it is a house solely occupied by animals). I followed the change in venue thanks to the iPhone being held by Jude and by FaceTime (the Apple only equivalent of Skype).
We get used to – but continue to curse – the vagaries of inadequate broadband and routers. It is annoying when so often the picture freezes or one loses the connection. But still, what a joy it is to be able to be, in a sense, present at occasions like this. The children get used to suddenly spotting me and saying ‘Hi Granny’ as if I were really in the room – and then ignoring me while they continue with their games, which this morning consisted of a sort of cricket using yesterday’s party balloons as bats and balls.
It is also nicer to chat with adults when looking at their faces. Kate often phones while walking to work, and we have a chat, interrupted on occasions by traffic lights or passing ambulances.
I suppose the most disconcerting thing about FaceTime and Skype (apart from the challenge of not dropping the iPhone or iPad) is this business of seeing yourself on the screen too. Somehow the position of the cameras on these devices seem to focus on blemishes like double chins.