My children are never going to know a life without FaceTime. That's wild. I didn't even have Facebook until the end of freshman year in college! I still had a flip phone then! I texted with T9 until I was like 23!
FaceTime, to them, is a normal way to call their grandparents and aunts and uncles to say hi. It's something to do when they're bored at home. It's a way to see family that lives far away, and even to check in on what their cousins are doing in the next town over.
They argue over who is going to hang up when they're done ("I want to press the red button!") and who gets to hold the phone when we're chatting. And I'm sure they've caused some nausea on the other end of our calls based on the way they run around like maniacs when they do get their turn to hold it. (Blair Witch Project, Toddler Edition. Sorry, family!)
My parents and one of my sisters live five hours south of us, and my husband's parents live three hours north of us. Plus, I have a brother and sister-in-law across the country. So we have used FaceTime for some of our biggest, happiest moments—to include the people we love most in the celebrations we wish they could be there for in person.
Singing happy birthday at parties, finding out whether we were having a boy or a girl, right after our siblings have gotten engaged, meeting our newborn babies fresh out of the womb, before the first day of school, on Christmas morning, when we were away on our special trip to Ireland and when they were in Disney, for lots of our kiddo's firsts like rolling over, trying solid food, and walking.
It makes me sad, sometimes, to think about missing out on each other's lives just because we don't live by one another. I can't run over to my New York sister's house to see her daughter in the cute pajamas we got her, but they can FaceTime us to show us.
I can't jump on a plane to zoom over to California the second my nephew is born, but I can FaceTime to see his beautiful little face shortly after he makes his debut. I couldn't make it to my sister's baby shower because I was suuuuper pregnant, but I was FaceTimed in for a bit to join the fun.
FaceTime is there for everyday moments, too. My middle daughter literally played hide and go seek with my father-in-law on FaceTime the other day for like 15 minutes. She would put the phone in the refrigerator of her play kitchen then run away or put him in a box with the top on and giggle uncontrollably. And Grandma FaceTimed with them recently while they were eating their lunch, and she read books to them for about a half hour while I tidied up the house! (That was probably the most useful FaceTiming we've ever done.)
We FaceTime whenever they want to see Uncle Pat's dogs in Cali or Nana and Poppa's birds in New York… when they want to show Aunt Kelly something they just learned… or when they want to see either of their great grandpas to chat (which their bond with them is thanks in part to staying connected over Facetime!).
It's become a familiar part of their bedtime routine. They FaceTime their grandparents during bathtime or before book negotiations and they get to recount their day or say goodnight with virtual kisses and hugs.
I realize that having the ability to FaceTime is a privilege we now have in our lives. It's not something I grew up with, but something my siblings and I definitely could have benefitted from. Especially in terms of our maternal grandparent relationship—they lived all the way in South Carolina and we didn't get to see them as much as we wished we did.
That's why I'm grateful for Facetime. It definitely doesn't replace real face time—nothing could compare to an in-person hug or hanging out together IRL—but it does provide a sweet buffer in the in-betweens.
When they ask to call someone, they usually automatically mean a FaceTime call, not an actual phone call. And I love that they get to see the faces of the people they're looking to connect with. It's a little something that always brings a lot of joy to their days and I know it is helping to strengthen the important relationships in their lives.
They may not get to be with all the people they love every day, but at least they can see them if they want. (Well, if they stop shaking the phone so much and hold it high enough for the other person to see their face and not just their chin…)