I have a unique situation with my children. We live more than a thousand miles apart. But from the day that their mother and I officially separated, I knew communication would be an important factor to maintaining the father/daughter relationship as they grow.
Unlike my childhood, when my parents split up, my father lived fairly local. But there were choices that he made, and long story short, his visits eventually became less frequent, phone calls eventually faded, holidays and birthdays no longer mattered. Again, this was a choice that he made. And this was in spite of him living locally.
But here in the 21st century, technology has enabled our society with a tremendous tool to communicate back and forth, more valuable than the telephone, because video images, in real time, allow us to now have conversations face to face with each other, no matter where we are. Programs like Skype, Tango, Oovoo, and the popular Facetime, allow us to talk, see smiles, share tears, experience sincerity and other emotions. Having experienced the communications issue with my father growing up, I knew this would be a critical component when it came to a custody agreement.
So on a daily basis, on occasion more than once a day, I speak, and see, both my daughters in between the times they visit with me. I say more than once a day, because besides the nightly “miss you” and “love you”, we have found another way to keep our relationship in tact, and my value as their father. Just as I did when I was in the home before the separation, I was the parent that helped with homework and studying. And with Facetime, I am able to continue this, along with using internet tools provided by the schools. Just as I did when I was in the home before the separation, I am, continue to be, and will always be involved in my daughters’ educations.
But technology has provided to be even more valuable than that. Recently, one of my daughters has been having an issue with one of her subjects. And in spite of my help, still seems to struggle. I have been reaching out repeatedly to their teachers and guidance counselor for help, tutors, anyone who could help my daughter. Unfortunately, the school district no longer refers tutors as procedures do not allow. I am guessing it has something to do with a litigious reason, somebody complained, sued, and now no student can get help.
Enter my world of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and the internet, a fellow survivor that I am frequently in contact with, was aware of my plight with my daughter’s math situation. She spoke with her daughter who is in a grade several years further, and offered to tutor my daughter, from 2/3 of the way across the country, via Facetime. And so, having access to the math program, the lessons for the week, and a planned quiz, the first tutor session resulted in a 95% score on that quiz. In what can be equated to a digital penpal, my daughter is showing hope again for a course that she knew she was struggling with, and would have to face even more difficulties next year.
It is one thing to not be able to provide help locally, but totally amazing that from one of my personal worlds, I have been able to find help in dealing with another. Because of a friend, who I had only known through a support group for long term survivors of the same cancer I have survived, and only recently physically meant, my daughter’s education is now going to take a huge turn in a positive direction.
And I am fairly certain, my friend’s daughter, along with her other children are good kids. And I would not doubt it, given the nature of both my daughters, and my friend’s children, that thanks to Facetime, more than just an educational relationship will develop. Like I said, in the day of technology, this is the new version of being a “penpal.”
I am thankful to my friend for allowing this to happen. We have both been through our individual experiences with our cancer survivorship, and other physical issues not related. But with her kindness and thoughtfulness, it enabled me to provide another level of assistance in my daughter’s education.