Posted by: laughs4dads | July 2, 2010

Staying in Touch

I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but since January, there have been an awful lot of earthquakes. Haiti, of course, and Chile. And Puerto Rico and China. Indonesia and Sumatra. Turkey, Japan, San Diego and Mexico. Canada just last week.

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t be so attuned to the frequency of tremors, except for the fact that my daughter, Casey, is spending the summer in San Francisco. (Motto: “We’re just asking for it.”)

A child living so far away from home is always a bit traumatic for parents, especially, I think, when the child is a girl. But it’s one thing when you’re giving the departing kid advice like, “Always have emergency money” and “Make sure you have enough quarters for the washing machine.” It’s another thing when you have to include “Stand under a doorway when the earth is coming apart.”

Naturally, this isn’t the first time Casey’s been away from home. There were the four years of college at Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, a lovely town where most of the crime rate is accomplished by the elected officials and they set the river on fire once a month, on purpose. There was sleep-away camp, where there might have been the fear of injury during some sporting activity, except that it was an art camp, so the closest thing they got to athletics was sweating at the glass blowing furnace. And there was travel camp one summer when, each week, the kids were driven to some far-away theme park, and we were worried about Casey OD-ing on fast food.

But this is the first time she has lived away from us in real life. In a strange city. With sourdough bread. And medical marijuana.

The great thing these days about your kids being away from home is how easy it is to stay in touch. I remember one summer in the 70s when I drove cross country. I would call home collect and my parents would reject the call. That way, they knew where I was and that I was okay, but it didn’t cost anything.

And in my day, when kids were at college, there had to be assigned times when parents could call their kids at the dorm.

But we talk to Casey more now than when she was living at home…if instant messaging can be called “talking.”

Of course, we can also call each other whenever we want, because there’s no such thing as long distance charges anymore. We can take photos and zap them instantly across the country like it was the most natural thing in the world, which it really isn’t to somebody who grew up thinking Polaroids were amazing.

And now we have video calling.

This is a technology that has been promised to us since the 1964 World’s Fair, where you could actually make a video call to another person who was 10 feet away from you in the same exhibit hall. But now it has finally come to fruition thanks to Skype. (By the way, if you are a parent, and you hadn’t yet been born for the 1964 World’s Fair, I hate you.)

Unlike most technology, Skype is simple to set up. Unlike almost everything, it’s free. All you need is a $20 webcam.

I have no idea how it works. I just know there’s some weird sounds and then Casey is magically on my computer screen like a YouTube video that is somehow talking to me.

However, I can’t say that the video portion of our conversations has been particularly exciting, even though I try to gesticulate wildly while we converse so as not to waste the tech.

I just really, really hope I don’t see the wall coming apart behind her.

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