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Texting with my Grandkids

Published in ChicagoNow, December 26, 2017

I have finally accepted that texting is the only way to really reach my kids. I guess email is passé for their generation. But texting with my grandkids? This has become a whole new thing, and I love it.

A few of the older ones actually have their own phones, resulting in messages like this:

I’m never sure what response they are looking for. Sometimes, it’s just an acknowledgement that I have read their random thoughts and I care about what they are thinking.

With others, they need something important and the text is urgent. An all-caps shout for goggles is something of an emergency to an eleven-year-old who won’t swim without them.

As is a plea to bring cookies when I come to the house.

Apparently, my eleven-year-old granddaughters think my husband and I are not as tech savvy as they are. They are right. Within hours of getting phones, they surpassed the knowledge I have about my phone gathered over many years of using it. When they send me texts that explode or dancing cats or photos of themselves with pig ears, I have to ask how they accomplished that. And I get something back like this:

When one of them excitedly wrote about getting an iPhone 8, I told her Grandpa has the exact same phone.

She could not believe he needs lessons from her on how to use it, but he truly does. In a few hours, she discovered more things her phone could do than he ever will. When she asks if he is never on his phone, I can truthfully answer that she has spent more time with hers in a day than he has since he purchased it three months ago.

Recently, I received a long string of texts from my seven-year-old grandson who was playing with his father’s phone during his younger brother’s preschool gym class. I guess he was bored, but I was amazed that he knew how to do this, complete with sending me lots of emojis.

But he also typed some pretty awesome sentences and figured out how to send a bunch of selfies as well. I assumed he was using dictation, but my son assured me he had written them. Well bravo. Here’s a pretty good use of texting to hone his writing and spelling skills. And I loved that he decided to communicate with me, as we live an airplane’s ride away. Yet, it felt (and was) an immediate conversation that he initiated rather than a weekly FaceTime call from me.

Actually, texting is a pretty good tool for a number of things for kids. For children who have communication problems, it can be easier for them to write texts than to talk face to face. And the back and forth aspect of them is a pretty decent tool for these children to learn about reciprocal conversations. Without the pressure of having to come up with a verbal response on the spot, texting helps children with this type of special need to reach out and respond to others.

I also love getting those thank you texts from grandkids. I accept that writing a formal note, finding a stamp in the house, and actually putting it in the mail is not happening. One of my grandkids attempted to email a thank you but was shocked that when she typed “Gramma” into the “To” line, nothing happened. So yes, a text is just fine with me.

Only folks of my generation remember the old Art Linkletter bit called “Kids Say the Darndest Things.” It originated on radio in 1945, the year I was born, and then moved to television as a segment on House Party from 1952 to 1969. I grew up laughing over the unique lens through which kids saw life. Perhaps this even influenced my ultimate career in early childhood education.

As we head into the new year, I find myself in need of a few good laughs. So, thanks to my grandkids for texting me and I look forward to more in 2018.


by Laurie Levy
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