April Jeppson: A phone call with Mom can change your day

Published 9:36 pm Thursday, March 21, 2019

Every Little Thing by April Jeppson

April Jeppson


I was talking to my mother on the phone the other day and she says she’s ready to come home. My parents live in Texas for a few months each winter and what used to be a two-month stint has, over the years, evolved into a four-month hiatus. She’s got a cold. She misses her own bed. She’s just ready — but they still have a month left.

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I talk to my mom a few times a week — usually when I’m alone in the car driving somewhere I give her a call. We might talk about grocery shopping, the weather, my job, my kids or her garden. It really doesn’t matter, it just feels good to talk to my momma. I sometimes forget that my kids might want to talk to my mom — or she might even want to talk to them. 

I was driving on the way to church on Sunday and I said to my kids, “Hey, you wanna call Grandma?” It was a universal “Yes!” So, I decided to video chat her, instead of just passing the phone around or putting her on speaker phone.

If you’ve ever talked to small children you know a few things are universally true about this process. First, their sweet voices are often hard to understand. High-pitched, slurring words, using words that don’t even exist — or how about when they point the phone at their toy and don’t say anything because they think the person on the other end can see it.

Second, if you have more than one younger child, you might notice that their voices kind of sound the same. I’m with my youngest a lot. I can pick out her voice in a room full of 5-year-olds every time. Over the phone? I can’t tell if I’m talking to her or her sister.

So I thought it might be easier if I just video chatted. We use this feature for birthday parties or for opening Christmas presents. It allows the kids to show off their new toys and for my parents to see the genuine joy in my children’s faces when they get to talk to them. It’s also, as I’ve previously discussed, easier for the person on the other end to understand what my children are talking about.

As the phone gets passed around the car, my children take turns talking about St. Patrick’s Day, the outfit they picked out for church or the breakfast they ate — you know, super important things in the life of a child. It’s really sweet to hear, actually.

My son is slowly turning into a teenager. He starts out the conversation a little moody, the hood of his winter coat turned up. He answers slow and can’t think of anything he wants to talk about. Then he warms up. He remembers something from a cartoon he watched earlier, and his eyes light up as he tries to explain the plot twist to my mother. I glance over and see my mother smiling back at him through my phone, which in turn makes me smile instead of telling my son to stop talking about BeyBlade Burst.

So, the other day, Genevieve comes home from preschool, and she wants to play with me. I’m working on finishing up our lunches, and it occurs to me that this would be another good opportunity to call my mom. G didn’t get a lot of time to video chat with her grandma the last time, so this would give her some one-on-one.

I set it up and lean my phone against a pile of laundry that hasn’t quite made it to the wash machine. As I’m microwaving and stirring, I look over and see that my mother and her are using the features on the phone that allow you to change your appearance. My daughter is a flame-spewing dragon, and my mother appears to be a wide-eyed bunny rabbit with impeccably flawless skin. My daughter then decides she also wants to be a bunny, then a rockstar, then a deer, and so the conversation goes as the two of them play around with the facial alteration feature.

They ended up chatting for 20 minutes that day. No, they ended up playing for 20 minutes together. My dad popped in at one point to laugh at the girls and their virtual costumes. I popped in to see what I’d look like as a cute cat-humanoid-thing. It was really fun to see my mother being silly with my child. I think I’m going to video my mom later today, but this time I’m going to do it before Genevieve gets home from preschool. I want to play with my mom for a bit.

Albert Lean April Jeppson is a wife, mom, coach and encourager of dreams.