Continuous contact

“Ron talks with his wife 12 times a day”

 

Ron is in his late thirties, and recently had a baby with his second wife. He also has a teenage son from his previous marriage. He is the sole employee of a shop and has quite a lot of empty moments in his day waiting for customers. Ron talks to and texts his wife many times a day. “I really like mobile phones, I have two mobile phones and so does my wife. I call my wife to say hello, I call my wife to know if everything is ok, I call my wife to know if the children are ok, I call my wife for the doctor… I call my wife all day long! I’m a guy who really likes to participate and I love hearing that the baby just ate his first apple or the older one just said something funny. And I want to hear it straight away not tonight.”

Ron can´t wait until the kids will be old enough to talk on the phone so that he will be able to talk to them too during the day. With his older son Jon they stay in touch with IM. The two of them have had a couple of rocky years especially after he remarried and it was really difficult to talk to each other. One day Jon told his dad that he had started using IM with his friends and so Ron tried to chat with him once on MSN. It turned out that this worked much better than talking on the phone and since then that seems to be their main channel of communication.

Its incredible how much closer we have become, before when I ringed him up at home it would be awful as I don’t really get along with my ex wife and I could hear her in the back mumbling and ranting while Jon was talking. So obviously Jon hardly said a word and I ended each call frustrated…; Then he got a mobile and I thought great we can talk directly, but first he never had it switched on, then he never had credit and wouldn´t call me back, so we used texting but it was pretty limited. The other problem with speaking on the phone is that sometimes a tone of voice or a silence can be misunderstood and you know how terribly touchy teenagers are … you can just be silent for a second too long because you are blowing your nose, and they think you are scolding them or being reproachful and then I also got annoyed when he only answered yes and no. Writing is easier, you can think before you write anything, there is no intonation, you don’t see the face so you can say things that would be difficult face to face. Now with IM I see if he is online, so I just say hi and see if he answers. I think it is because he can chat to me while doing other stuff he doesn’t feel it is an obligation a formal call from dad, its just in the flow of his activities. In a sense he is off guard and so can tell me what is going on that day or that moment. And that is just what a parent wants isn’t it, just know what your kid is doing and thinking and feeling that moment. You don’t want a report you just want to share a moment be together a while. Thats the hardest thing when you divorce I think, the fact of not sharing as many moments. And somehow it may sound absurd but with IM its coming back, I really can be there with him for a while.

Ron is not just a family man, he has a very intense relationship with a group of friends from his country of origin, They all left more or less at the same time, but one friend went to Germany, another to London, one is in Canada. So they are spread out but chat a few times a week. They also meet up every couple of years. They have this habit of taking a week of holiday;

With these friends we IM a bit, we phone and we skype. Last year we had real fun with skype and a videocam we really fooled around with it. Again it’s like with my son, if you don’t share some moments the friendship dies out. If you only talk once a month or every three months it gets kind of formal you give a summary of the last weeks and that is it. But for me real friendship is participating in the daily life. So with my friends we try to keep in touch by sending each other music we like and films and we chat about them and then we all look at some  online news from our city so we can keep abreast of what is going on.

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