It’s tough being in a long distance relationship. It’s especially tough when that distance is 17,037 km and the relationship is parent-daughter.
Since I traded Sydney’s sunny climes for Oxford’s dreaming spires, SMS has become the main form of communication between my doting parents and me (where doting = ‘assumes their daughter has gone into septic shock from mercury poisoning if they don’t hear from her for 2 days’ and me = ‘23 year old college student who subsists entirely on Sirena tuna’).
Before I left 6 months ago, I gave my Mum and Dad a crash course in iPhone usage. They’ve gotten a handle on some things, like group messages and sending photos, which means that I often awake to a pleasant stream of ‘baby asparagus crop!’ or ‘latest eggplant harvest!’ texts. When my Mum visited Turkey I even got a video of Cappadocia, although she couldn’t work out how to flip the camera back around so it’s pretty much 45s of her rotating in a hot air balloon basket with a glimpse of honeycombed hills behind her left ear.
I’ve definitely noticed an improvement in their social media use. They’ve stopped referring to ‘The Google’ and ‘The Facebook’, and my Dad even has a profile on the latter (replete with 14 friends and a selfie profile pic that’s 40% uptilted chin). They’ve jumped aboard the textspeak train: my Dad signs everything with ‘LOL’ (thinking that it means ‘lots of love’), and when I rail about the vicissitudes of life they sympathetically reply with ‘WTF?’ (‘what’s the fuss?’). My Dad’s first Instagram post – a sepia breakfast scene – was endearingly captioned ‘hashtaghashbrowns’ and the titles just keep getting better.
What’s most frustrating about relying on SMS for life updates, however, is my parents’ constant misspellings (I’m regularly addressed as ‘Emo’, ‘Melody’ or ‘Celery’) and complaints about the finger-bogglingly small iPhone touchpad (‘Gee , it is hard to run my finger. Not fast enogh’) which baffles me because my usually dextrous Dad can thread a needle and sew on a button in under 20s and my nimble-fingered Mum can extract a split baby tooth from a toddler’s mouth without causing so much as a peep.
Their lack of tech savviness has also had disastrous consequences. My Dad’s sympathy message when my cousin’s beloved French bulldog died read ‘We are so sorry to hear about Rosie. LOL xx’ and I will never forgive my Mum’s slow typing after she sent me ‘Dad just had a small heart attack’. In the 30s it took her to follow up, I started hyperventilating, burst into tears and frantically looked up the international dialling code so I could call them… before ‘…he thought he forgot to pay the gas bill on time!’ pinged through.
On the whole, however, I’m grateful that even though we’re 17,037 km apart, I can still reach out to my parents about anything, and feel a part of their lives. Even if it’s peppered with indecipherable typos or sent piecemeal, I get the biggest grin on my face when they message me, sending me virtual hugs and kisses…and LOL.
(Written in response to last week’s ManRepeller Writer’s Club prompt)