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Simon has been playing “telephone” for ages. He’s listened to “hello”s and unreciprocated attempts at conversation from my old boss, my mom, my in-laws, and a handful of friends. Without exception, until Wednesday this week, he’s smiled into the phone, looked up at me with an expression of wonderment, and then wandered off while disembodied child-engaging tones flowed from the receiver to the air.

Ironically, he’s fared much better with his toy phone. That he will pick up several times a day and use to call family, usually his Grandma or Bubbie. These conversations go something like this:

“Hewo? Simon! OK. Bye!”

Then he hangs up and dials the next person in his queue.

Wednesday this all changed; Simon called his Grandma and had a real (for him) conversation. It had been in the works for over a day, so I think he spent a fair bit of time working up to the big moment. The nexus of the call was a play-date with Grandma Monday night. Evie came over to spend time with Simon while Matt joined his dad and brother at the ball-park.

We had a terrific time, and Simon particularly enjoyed having Grandma read to him and help tuck him into bed at night. Then he awoke Monday morning and greeted me with “Where’s Grandma?” fully expecting to see the person who tucked him in the previous night.

There were some tears, and mentions of Grandma came throughout the day. I put the issue in the back of my mind until I picked Simon up from camp on Tuesday, only to be greeted by a quivering chin and glassy eyes. He thought his Grandma might pick him up from camp that day, and there was no hiding his disappointment when she failed to appear.

Then Wednesday arrived and after quite a bit of time spent happily playing, Simon looked up at me and plaintively asked “Where’s Grandma?” I tried to explain that she had gone home, that she’d see him tomorrow, and all that stuff, but then decided that when a small child misses his Grandmother, saying “tomorrow” is woefully inadequate.

So we got on the phone. The minute he heard her voice, his eyes brightened and a wide smile spread across his face. Evie asked about camp, and Simon told her that camp “was gweat!” Evie asked what we were doing, and Simon told her that we were finger-painting. Evie asked what colors we were using, and Simon told her about the red, green, and black paints he prefers. All real answers to real questions, offered without lengthy delay and spoken into the head-set. Then they exchanged their goodbyes and I love yous, and I saw neither glassy eye nor quivering chin again.

It was a moment that made me pause to consider how much learning goes into making a simple call and also to appreciate anew the power of telecommunications to help us feel connected.

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