On the way home from the CAIS Business Professionals conference, I watched Her, the Spike Jonze movie about a man named Theodore, whose friendship with a new, advanced operating system deepens into an eventual love. Watch it, and then your brain will be filled with questions about technology and relationships and what it means to be in love.
It made me think about the three people whom I love most, and how technology impacts our ability to stay connected. I travel often, and so I find I rely on technology to stay connected. Before every flight, the last person I text is Kevin. I don’t know why, but I need to text I love him and I wait for his text back, preferably before I take off. I like to Facetime Kathleen first thing in the morning. I like to wake her up, and see her disheveled hair, and experience her early-morning crankiness. Once I Facetimed her from my room across the hall from her, and we laughed at our routine. I used to Skype with the kids at night, and once I remember Kevin reading to them in bed, and I could see Jacob poking at Kathleen, so from my hotel in Vancouver, I was disciplining them as if I were there.
But being apart is tough on a family. I remember when Jacob was younger, and when I returned from a trip, he would jump into my arms and wrap his legs and arms around me. He would stay there, and I would just let him cling to me in the front hallway, without saying a word. It was as if he needed that physical reminder that I was his Mom and I still loved him although we were apart. He didn’t say the words, I’m glad you’re back, and he didn’t need to. There is no technological replacement for those moments in life, but thank goodness for the technology between them.
Now that Jacob is at boarding school, and those embraces are even rarer, I think a lot about how we use technology to maintain our deep connections. We text. Often. I sometimes think I know more about his day than my parents ever knew about mine because we text so frequently. We also speak on the phone, and I love that he can give me a quick call mid-day to let me know how he did at rugby while he still has that post-game high. When I landed at the airport today, I got a text to say that his math test “was good, but super hard!!!!!!!” I’m sure he texts and calls his friends too, and I’m sure he is on his device a lot. But here’s the thing.
At boarding school, Jacob spends the majority of his days engaged in face-to-face interaction with friends. In fact, he spends the majority of his evenings and weekends with friends too, as well as professional, caring adults. His days are full of people, not technology. I love that he spends his free time playing, and I mean playing outside with friends, playing games that have not been organized by adults. Really goofing around. How great is that?
Lakefield, like all CAIS schools, values relationships, and they are quite intentional about how students spend their time. I was just at Brentwood watching their Dance Show last Thursday evening, and I asked a row of girls what they loved most about their school. Without a pause, one girl smiled and said, “Relationships.” They all agreed. One added, “Well, you are never bored at Brentwood.”
So I am thankful that boarding school allows my child to develop a broader network of relationships. And I am thankful that Kevin and I had the courage to let go and let him spend more time with others. And I am thankful that technology allows me to stay connected to him.
But here’s the other thing – when I see Jacob this weekend? I might jump into his arms and cling to him in the hallway.
p.s. As a side note, my colleagues who edit this blog both individually asked if they were number four on my most-loved list. Not quite, but I do love my entire CAIS team.