Gzzzzzzzzzzz – we interrupt this MamaBlog to bring you the words of… NinjaDad (Nica’s papa). These are his thoughts about bringing up a baby in a technological era and how that affects relationships. It may be interesting to note that thought Gauri (Nica’s mommy) is a confirmed hippy, NinjaDad is a programmer and works in technology for a living.
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As I sit in my New York hotel room reading Dr Seuss to Nica 2,905 miles away at home in San Francisco I reflect on how different her life will be compared to mine growing up in an age of technology. Modern technology is a wonderful thing. I can look up how far San Francisco is from New York in the blink of an eye. I can show Nica a picture of a Yak right then and there when one is mentioned in one of her songs. Technology has also helped us stay connected.
Nica and I share the fact that our Grandparents live continents away. Growing up I had very little contact with my grandparents who lived in Hong Kong (while I was growing up in London, UK). I loved them all dearly, in the way that one can’t help loving their family, but I never managed to find a comfortable way to really connect with them. We never played together, never or had any meaningful conversations. This was in part due to the “children should be seen but not heard” mentality I was bought up under but also, I suspect, due to the infrequency of our interactions. Our one main socializing event would be the annual (forced and often laggy) phone call on their birthdays. We would talk about the weather, how their health was and generally try to end the awkwardness as fast as possible.
Conversely, Nica’s grammy video-Skypes her several times a week. They sing, read books, and chat to each other. Sure its a far cry from engaging with someone in person but despite being an ocean and continent apart they have managed to form a far richer and intimate relationship than I ever had. To the extent that Nica didn’t have any problem hanging out with her Grammy when she came to visit. Normally it takes Anya a while to warm up to and be herself around people she’s never met before but with her grammy this just wasn’t an issue – the love fest continued in person. I wonder how my relationship with my grandparents would have been different if I we had had access to video conferencing…
Nica is no doubt a techno baby. At 2 she was able to answer incoming Skype calls as well as send ‘smilies’. For some reason this concerns me but I’m not sure why. Maybe it is because we tried so hard to keep her away from all screens in her first year or the potential health implications of all this electromagnetic pollution (I hear a woman is suing Santa Monica for wifi parking meters making her ill: http://consumerist.com/2012/08/woman-suing-city-of-santa-monica-for-1-7-billion-claiming-new-wireless-parking-meters-are-affecting-her-health.html). And we still keep her TV/YouTube viewing down to a minimum so that it doesn’t interfere with her budding imagination and ability to create her own entertainment.
Still, these concerns aside I am grateful for the technology we have. I Skype Anya almost daily from work and we have each other in the background as we work and play. To be able to share in my daughters morning activities – be it 25 or 2905 miles away – is truly a blessed thing and I am grateful.
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How about you, how do you use technology to build bridges to span the distance between family members?