Skype has been very important to us while we’ve been here in Vienna. It’s a lifeline — a connection to our family and friends. I don’t know what we would have done without it. The distance would seem so much greater, and the time we’ve been away would feel infinitely longer if we didn’t have it.
We Skype a lot. In a typical week, we Skype 4-5 times. And although it provides this essential connection to home, and therefore it feels completely unreasonable and ungrateful to malign it in any way, it often makes us all kind of crazy.
An imminent Skype is always exciting — even after 2 years here, the kids are always thrilled to see their grandparents or other family and friends on Skype. With excitement comes a lot of energy, but then, in order to make the Skype functional at all, we ask the kids to settle down, which almost never happens. We expect a lot of them when we Skype — don’t touch the computer, don’t be too loud, be nice to each other, “What did you do at school today?”, “Do you remember what you wanted to tell Grandma?”. They really do try. But they also shout, push toys up to the monitor (almost never the camera), throw things, talk over each other and everyone else, and jockey for position in front of the computer, pushing and climbing on each other and on Dan & I. They want the undivided attention of the person we’re Skyping with, and they want our undivided attention. Everyone always needs something — a snack, a toy from a high shelf, a fresh diaper, a different tv show, different clothes — anything to regain our attention, and I put them off a lot with “Mommy can’t right now . . .” and “In a minute.” Because they want our attention, the kids resort to wreaking havoc, attacking the computer or fighting with each other in order to become the focus. And, since we’re on Skype, I’m uncommonly reluctant to enforce consequences — it takes me away from the Skype, and it is always a bummer for everyone. So, I usually don’t. The kids have figured that out, so Skype has become an insane whirlwind of frenetic energy and unruly behavior, beginning the moment I start to set up the computer. It’s like distilling out the essence of a tough night’s sleep, too much sugar and a missed nap and injecting it into the kids.
Still, Skype is absolutely vital to our mental well-being while we’re here, and we certainly aren’t going to cut back on our Skypes — however crazy they might be, they’re worth every wild moment in order to see our loved ones from home. I also doubt that they’re going to stop being a little bit insane anytime soon, but what they lack in normalcy they will continue to make up for in enthusiastic chaos.