When it comes to being Googie, there are a thousand good things to every one that may not be so good. Of those, the worst for me have to be those rare occasions when the time between grandkid visits stretches past three and a half weeks. Luckily, in the nearly four and a half years since Sooby was born and made me Googie, this has happened only twice.
However, this last seemingly interminable span, relieved only by the long-awaited Thanksgiving visit, nearly did me in. That is when I threw my arms into the air and, tearing my hair and rending my garments in ultimate desperation, invoked the mercy of the technology gods. In other words, I bought a web cam and downloaded Skype.
Nothing rivals the joy I felt when I executed the download successfully. There they were--Sooby, Pooh, Bootsie, and their mother--looking back at me from my computer screen as though they were perched right there atop my desk. Their little voices were as clear as bells, and I think they were almost as excited as I was to be a part of this technological miracle.
Their first inclination was to entertain me. "Watch this, Googie," Sooby said, waving her arms frantically as I oohed and aahed appropriately. "Watch this, Googie," Pooh chimed in as his little fingers stretched his mouth as far sideways as it would go. Then, Sooby had to try the same thing, varying the effect sightly by sticking out her tongue. Bootsie just watched, amazed by it all.
Next, Pooh wanted to show me his Dalmatian suit. So I looked on patiently as he stripped down to his diaper and stepped into a furry white get-up with black spots. "Well, hello there, Pongo," I said, "but let's just talk to each other for a while, want to?"
"OK," said Sooby, but she didn't quite catch my drift. "Can you read I Love You, Stinky Face?"
First let me say that I love You, Stinky Face is a children's book wonderfully written by Lisa McCourt and exquisitely illustrated by Cyd Moore. It is about a little boy who wonders if his mother would still love him in the event he were a dinosaur whose sharp claws shredded the bed sheets; an ugly one-eyed Cyclops; or, as the title suggests, a smelly skunk.
As only a mother can, she assures him that she would love him no matter what and would make any accommodation within her power to be near him and take care of him at any cost. For example, at one point in the story, the child asks, "But, Mama, but, Mama, what if I were an alligator with big, sharp teeth that could bite your head off?"
"Then I would buy you a bigger toothbrush for your big teeth and make sure that you brushed them every night so they'd stay healthy and strong," the mother replies. "And if you had a sore throat, I would stick my head right inside your enormous jaws to make sure you were okay, and I would say, 'I love you, my ferocious alligator.'"
The kids love this story and its imaginative drawings, so sharing it with them on Skype involves a back-and-forth process of reading a page and then trying to maneuver its picture so that the web cam can focus on it and relay it to the kids waiting on the other side of this marvelous process. It takes a little practice on my part and a little patience on theirs, but the result is wholly satisfactory, as I experience the joy of reading a book to my grandchildren from some 180 miles away.
"Can you watch them for about four hours?" Cookie jokes. "You can just call me if something goes wrong." I chuckle at this possibility before we say our goodbyes for this session.
They ring off and I smile to myself. I can see that it will be easy for me to develop a skyperactivity disorder of the most serious kind. I will have trouble focusing on housework until we skype. I will have trouble sitting still. I will leave the salt out of the meatloaf. My mind will wander who knows where. For instance, it might conjure a conversation such as this:
"But, Googie, but, Googie, what if we grow computers for hands and light up so bright at night that you can't sleep?"
"Then I will get a new pair of sunglasses so your shining lights won't hurt my eyes, and I will knit you some huge mittens so your computer hands won't get cold in the winter."
Our conversation would end much as McCourt's book itself does:
"We love you, Googie."
"And I love you, my wonderful children."
Yep, I am officially skyperactive. I prefer to think of it as my own personal Stinky Face miracle.