My parents are from large families — my mom, a family of 9, and my dad, a family of 11. I would wager I have 30 to 35 cousins on each side of my family and many of them now have their own children. Generally speaking, I have a terrible time remembering everyone.
I can't imagine what it must be like to remember each individual grandchild and to have a fading memory to boot. My grandparents are admirable people.
Despite their incredible efforts to remember every single grandchild, direct relationships always fell by the wayside. Sure, my grandparents attended my graduations and my wedding. Grandpa even took me on tractor rides when I was really young.
But there's no way my relationship with my grandparents reflected the relationship between my nieces and nephews and their grandparents today.
And it's all thanks to that iPad.
My brother-in law and sister-in-law live approximately 800 kilometres away (about 500 miles for our American friends). They are the first siblings to have a family. Their oldest son is two and a half years old (already) and is starting to have lengthier conversations with his family. It's an extremely exciting time.
Brody loves to talk to his Papa. During this past weekend's Easter festivities, Papa showed Brody how to fire the horn on his motorcycle and Brody joined Papa around the barbeque to roast some hot dogs. Sometimes I think Papa is Brody's best friend.
How has Papa developed such a strong relationship with Brody while living so far apart? If my grandparents — despite the multitude of grandchildren — were unable to develop an enduring relationship with me while living within a few blocks, how has Papa pulled it off?
Two weeks ago, Brody grabbed his mom's iPhone and called Papa himself.
"Hey Papa," he casually babbled in two-and-a-half-year-old English. "T-shirt!"
Brody grabbed his new John Deere shirt and shifted the camera downwards to show Papa his new possession.
"Wow!" Papa replied. "How was church today Brody? Did you make something cool?"
Brody grabbed his newly crafted palm leaf to commemorate Palm Sunday. He again used the iPhone and showed Papa his creation.
I had the opportunity to witness this whole conversation. Even 20 year olds didn't have the opportunity to grow a visual relationship with their grandparents thousands of miles apart. They could develop a spoken relationship through a telephone, but the visual relationship would be non-existent. Imagine life a hundred years ago; there really was no medium for a young child to get to know their families.
Apple knows about this power. They marketed the crap out of it when the iPhone 4 was released. FaceTime is an old product.
But it only becomes an old product once you've seen its benefits. FaceTime has singlehandedly maintained my extended family's relationships and Brody and Brooklyn will always know who their grandparents are.
"Bye bye Nana Papa," Brody mumbled in a disheartened manner.
"Bye Brody. I'll call you tomorrow and you can show me your new bike," encouraged Papa.
Brody's face lit up. "Ok!"
A tear slowly rolled down my cheek. Potentially a tear of joy. Rather, I think, a tear of jealousy.</p