Zoom, Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams. Virtual meeting spaces… Now that these internet meetings are the new norm, there are a million blogs and observations out there about them. Late night comedians have done skits and jokes about them endlessly – as in…
Yes. I know. He might not be wearing pants.
I know. That might just be wine in her coffee cup.
Oh, Look. I have a fun and funky virtual background!
Yep, it is all jokes and fun, but seriously though, because of Zoom, I have talked to a beloved nephew more in the last three months than I have in the last five years. Zoom was the vehicle that allowed it to happen, but in all fairness, quarantine is more likely the reason. Bored and isolated, even a Zoom family meeting was more interesting than another show on Netflix, or yet another novel – (he is a reader, after the last meeting I packed up a box of books and some oatmeal raisin cookies and sent a care package.)
And it was because of Zoom that my husband was able to attend a family reunion from the comfort of our living room. Distant relatives held up pictures to the camera, showed a treasured toy made by a late ancestor, told family stories. Yes, they got distracted by those things, but Scott was able to put faces to names on a family tree. He loved it.
Zoom also allowed us to have multiple happy hours, at first a little awkward, but becoming increasingly jovial and natural. And if Aperol Spritzs were the drink of summer 2019, French 75 is the drink of the summer 2020 virtual cocktail hour.
We experimented with games. Gracie put together a “Fixer Upper” bingo board and we had a game night. We had as much fun with the items on the board as actually playing the game. Items like, “Rip up carpet and find hardwood(s),” and “Joanna says, ‘Nice French Doors,” and “Chip says something uncomfortable.”
But the best format for games we decided, was an app called “House Party.” Nothing. NOTHING is as fun as playing Pictionary with your 4 year old grandson. If his picture is red and blue… it is always a rocket ship. If it is green with tiny dots on it, it is a Christmas tree. A spiral? Noodles of course. Fire trucks. Spiders. Sunglasses. He is an artist. AND If you draw well enough, he can pretty much guess what you are drawing no matter what, but you better put the colors of the rainbow in the proper order or he notices. Rules of the game? If you guess what Weston draws, he wins. If he guesses what you are drawing, he wins. Basically, in any scenario of the game, he wins, arms in air, fist pump, “Yay, I win.”
And because of Zoom, we were able to have a baby shower for my middle daughter, Laura. I put as much work into that shower as I would have for a face-to-face shower and it seemed to go OK. Especially when you consider the potential that it could have been extremely sad and awkward. I think Laura and David felt the love and excitement for the arrival of little baby Viggo!!
School via Zoom. Because I am looking for the joy, I did not really want to abnegate, or go that direction, but it is a reality. I have a deep deep sorrow about what is happening to education because of the virus, this thief that has stolen normal. This movement from “traditional to online models of learning.” The isolation. The privacy issues as 24 other families come into your living room every day. I just don’t want to see the chaos of your household, I don’t want to watch you share a toothbrush with your sibling or listen to your teenaged sibling argue with your dad – it is such an invasion of your privacy. AND Because I am the elementary school librarian, I sit in on over 37 Zoom classes/meetings a week. I think this video perfectly explains what school is like on a zoom meeting – Do not worry, it is the FUNNY side of a school zoom meeting… Enjoy: https://youtu.be/yObcMi_0du0
So Zoom/Microsoft Meetings/Google Hang-Outs/HouseParty.. .and so many other platforms for virtual communication are here for our good, and here to stay. When things are “normal” again, when we celebrate a jubilee of sorts, I know I will still use them. In fact, my family has already agreed that we will meet like this once a month. How fun! I can keep up with nephews and nieces! Because my girls and I are spread out across the PNW, I imagine we will still play the occasional Fixer Upper Bingo. I can still play House Party with Weston, and a little latter with my newest grandson, Viggo. Yeah, all that because of Zoom.
(PS. SUPER awkward prompts of “abnegate,” “thief” and “jubilee”)