Video chats gone wild

Sherri Gardner HowellBlount, Farragut, Kitchen Table Talk

The dragon on my head always brings peals of laughter from my Nashville grandson, King, especially when I open my mouth, and the dragon breathes fire down my neck.

Gigi as Facebook Video Chats Mrs. Frankenstein

Gigi after a visit from balloon man from Facebook Messenger Video Chat

Grandson Gardner in Seattle likes it when the balloon man wraps around my head and takes over my face. He doesn’t like it when I morph into Mrs. Frankenstein. “Your glowing eyes will give me bad dreams, Gigi!”

Phone visiting with tech-savvy grandkids during a pandemic is quite an adventure.

I avoided the video calls as long as I could. But the grandkids didn’t talk very long if they couldn’t see me and couldn’t “show” me new toys and things they had made. One non-video call had to be placed five times because my grandson was having more fun pushing the red disconnect button than talking to Gigi.

Because my husband and I are the only ones in the family who don’t have iPhones, we talk on Facebook messenger video chat.

My oldest grandson, Cohen, first started using the filters, masks and stickers several years ago. I had no idea how he was doing it and figured it was some techy hocus-pocus that only the new generation had the power to use.

Imagine my surprise when I accidently swiped at the bottom of my screen and saw that I had them, too! I also discovered I had games I could play on the call – catch the basketball in a net on your head or chomp the fruit by catching it with your mouth. Gardner really likes those, although I have been warned to stop letting him win every time.

(Which I will do as soon as I figure out how to catch the basketballs and fruit with my head and mouth …)

I not only found these masks and filters are good ways to entertain the grandchildren during lulls in the conversation but had some very useful applications as well.

Already taken your make-up off? No problem. Add a filter and zap up the sunglasses mask. Bad hair day? There are numerous hats, or, just have balloon man wrap your head with balloons.

I haven’t found a filter yet to smooth out my wrinkles, add a little volume to my hair or tighten up my double chin, but … hope springs eternal!

I suppose I don’t need to get too carried away. It will be important for my grandchildren to recognize me the next time we visit in person!

Sherri Gardner Howell has been writing about family life for newspapers and magazines since 1987. She lives in West Knoxville, is married to Neville Howell and has two sons and three grandsons.


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