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In Our Own Backyard...Who's calling?

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Columns Cloquet,Minnesota 55720
Pine Journal
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In Our Own Backyard...Who's calling?
Cloquet Minnesota 122 Avenue C 55720

Being the parents of grown children can be challenging these days. Though we no longer worry about grades in school, the reputation of prospective prom dates, drug use or unexpected pregnancies, the toughest challenge is simply being able to get ahold of them.  


One would think in this day and age of modern technology, that would not be a problem. I figured once I became “tech savvy,” I would be able to meet our grown kids at their own level. After all, I have three email accounts, a cell phone, a Facebook account, a LinkedIn account and even a Twitter account (which I use so seldom that I’ve completely forgotten my password!). But do you think I can get ahold of our kids? Negative. Oh, one or two of them will respond to emails every once in a while, but seldom do we get a response to voice mails, Facebook messages, or other means of more “traditional” communication.

Recently, we were beginning to worry when one of our daughters, who is visiting relatives in Texas, didn’t respond to repeated attempts to reach her — until one day my husband finally texted her (something he seldom does, and I don’t do at all since it’s blocked on my cell phone).

“Wanna Skype?” he typed, referring to the popular web chat format that is every parent’s dream, since it allows you not only to visit with your kids but actually see them at the same time.

He got an immediate response.

“Sure! Saturday at 9 a.m.?” she texted back.

“Sounds great!” he replied.

And so, last Saturday morning we eagerly awaited our Skype visit with our daughter, her husband and our two lovely granddaughters. We connected right at 9 a.m., as planned, but as we greeted them we noticed that we could hear an echo of everything we said.

“Hi Madeline! Hi Maia!” I exclaimed.

“Hi Madeline! Hi Maia!” came the echo.

“What are you girls up to?”

“What are you girls up to?”

It was distracting, to say the least, but we were too excited to see them to worry about it. (As it turned out, they were Skyping on their smartphone and there was some sort of funky reverb going on….).

Suddenly, a giant giraffe dropped into sight, dancing around in circles, jerking up and down and blocking out the camera image of the entire family.

“Looks like you have a new Easter toy!” I said.

“Looks like you have a new Easter toy!” came the incessant echo.

The giraffe continued to dance until our daughter gently but firmly suggested that Madeline, the 6-year-old, stop playing with it in front of the camera for a while so we could visit.

All of a sudden, a giant set of blue eyes obliterated the entire picture.

“LOOK!” cried Maia, the 4-year-old (who always seems to speak in capital letters). “My eyes GLOW!”

“Wow, that’s scary!” said my husband.

“Wow, that’s scary!” came the tinny echo.

The eyes faded in and out in front of the computer’s camera for several more minutes until Maia grew tired of it and drifted off to play with her sister. We had just started visiting with our daughter and her husband when the little girl came flying back into the picture in tears.

“Madeline KICKED me!” she yelled.

Our daughter gave us an apologetic look and got up to referee the off-camera situation. We were just discussing an upcoming bike race that our son-in-law is going to ride in when Maia came dashing back into camera range.

“I have to go to the BATHROOM!” she proclaimed.

Her mother told her to just go ahead and go. Pretty soon, Maia reappeared in only a pair of pink panties.

“It’s DARK in there!” she wailed.

Her mother told her to turn on the light, but she insisted she couldn’t do it, so her mom left once again to help her out. As soon as her mom left, Maia turned tail on the computer camera, bent over and giggled, “Watch me shake my BOOTIE!”

And so it went. As we eventually prepared to bring the web chat to a finish after 15 or 20 minutes and several more shenanigans, our daughter apologized for not really getting the chance to visit.

Little did she know — we got exactly what we wanted!

Wendy Johnson
(218) 879-1950