B has dutiful children. Her two sons call her on the phone about once a week. Her older son lives some 60 miles away, in his own apartment, and he will call when he gets home from work if he's not doing anything with his girlfriend. We also see him once or twice a month. In fact, we drove down to have dinner with him and his girlfriend over the weekend.
Her younger son lives more like 800 miles away, in South Carolina with his fiancee. He also calls his mom once a week, usually on his way home from work -- yes, he has a hands-free phone -- although we obviously don't get to see him as much. He was home for a long weekend last Christmas; and B flew down to see him over the summer. He and his fiancee are planning another trip home around Thanksgiving.
So that's how B talks to her children, mostly by voice, over the phone, and occasionally in person. Kind of the old-fashioned way. In fact, she was thrilled when she found out her older son did something almost unheard of among the 20-something crowd -- he installed a land-line telephone in his new apartment!
Maybe the way you communicate with your children changes once you have grandchildren. But for us, we're not there yet. And I wonder if we're at all typical; or if we're missing out somehow.
As for my daughter, she will not pick up the phone. She simply does not use the phone for voice communication. She communicates by messaging. If I call her, she never answers. If I leave her a voice-mail message, she will not respond. And she never calls me. But she will message me; and she will respond to a message. That's just the way she communicates, and I've found that I just had to adapt.
My daughter lives almost 400 miles away. We see her a couple of times a year -- largely (I think) because despite the fact that she's crossed the 30-year-old threshold, she's still living an itinerant lifestyle and is storing most of her worldly possessions in our basement. She stops off a couple of times a year to drop something off, or pick something up. Although this past weekend I met up with a friend of hers whose family lives near us, and the friend was home for the long Columbus Day weekend. We met at the mall, and I gave her my daughter's snowboard, and some winter clothes, to take up to her. That's how I "communicated" with my daughter this past weekend.
But honestly, my daughter is better at visiting me than I am at visiting her. But she's living in Buffalo -- which means the visiting season is short. We drove up there in August, which was my first-ever visit to Buffalo and Niagara Falls, and I did enjoy the trip. But I won't be venturing up there again until after the snow stops flying -- sometime after mid-May.
My son, who lives in New York City, will not answer the phone either. But he uses aol instant message at work. I can never reach him on a weekend. But during the week when he's at work, he's on AIM, and he almost always answers me. That's good, because I feel like he's available pretty much whenever I want to talk to him (you know, as long as it's not a weekend).
My son occasionally comes to visit -- usually when he travels home to see a friend -- and he'll often stay with us overnight. But even then he doesn't really talk to me. The exception -- when I drive him back to the train station. Do you remember those days, when your kids were young, and the best time to talk to them was when you were alone in the car, driving them to soccer practice or piano lessons?
Well, for me, it's still true. The car is dark; you don't have to look at the other person. There are no distractions; and you can't walk away. The perfect time and place to find out what's really going on in your kid's life.