Have formed a new type of bond with my niece, Moss, this year. I've always had a bond with her, by virtue of our being family. She's sister, Reggie's youngest, and I'd like to think I've had quite a hand in her upbringing. Moss is also between my two kids in age. We've had lots to do with each other over the years.
But this is different. Reggie and her old man have done the vine change thing, for want of a better expression. They've moved two and a half hours drive up the Hume and therefore aren't quite as physically accessible to Moss, when she fancies a bit of home comfort. That's where Al and I come in.
Moss has given up her day job and returned to uni this year. With Austudy, and the limited paid work she is able to do before losing her allowance, she's living just this side of down and out. After she's paid rent, there's little left over. She started coming over to ours for the occasional square meal and a bit of solace, missing her parents, as she does.
Lately, though, we've found a common love of sitting back on our respective couches and commentating on whatever crowd pleasing crap's on TV.
Why is this different?
When my daughter was living at home she'd occasionally sit with me, share the space and chat. But she was usually on the trot busy with her own thing, as it should be. Definitely not seeking my company.
Moss, however, brings her homework over and sets up, with me, in the lounge. She seems to do her assignments quite effectively, if good results are anything to go by, with one eye on her work and the other on the box and social media. She also manages to keep up an entertaining running commentary on whatever we're watching. I've offered Moss a quiet, warm study space but she prefers to sit with me! Hurrah!
She'll slowly sip one glass of chardy in the time that I'll chug back three. She'll be over there, on the other couch at her 'control panel' while I sit at mine. We've both got laptops and iPhones going, doing the rounds of HeyTell, text messaging, Twitter, Facebook.
Anti-social? No way!
Moss and I are most companionable as we watch The Voice. That's #thevoiceau! Doing the occasional Tweet. She's worse than me though. Made herself a bit unpopular with a nanna the other night while we were watching "Darncing With the Stars". Forget that Rapper woman's gyrating body, we were transfixed by a mole on Helen Richey's chest. Moss decided it looked like a Coco Pop and I had to agree. Then combined with Richey's crease of aged cleavage, she thought it looked more like an inverted exclamation mark. Perhaps Moss went a bit too far when she tried to get #HelenRichey'sMole trending on Twitter.
Rather than being anti-social all this digital stuff improves my sociability. Without it I wouldn't be doing book or writing groups or visiting theatre, cinema or friends. I'd just be here. Alone, given Al's in another room reading cos he can't stand the stuff I watch on TV.
Last night I was in Heytell contact with sister, Jane, in the Top End, Reggie in Wang, all of us watching The Voice, although Jane was half an hour behind. Bit of text messaging with the work husband, who's been off school with a bad back. Facebook contact with a former student, with whom I haven't been in touch for a couple of years. She's finished her degree now and was able to recommend a hairdresser, another former student. Also chuckled my way through a series of Tweet exchanges with a reciprocal blogger/tweeter, Naomi, who shares my penchant for a bit of Seal dancing. (Have to say, somewhat flushed when Seal spun his chair around and cut a few moves to one of the early contestant's songs. Had to splash my face with cold water! Perhaps there's hope for a restored mojo in Europe?)
Anyway, think social media is enhancing communication, albeit virtually, not detracting from it. It suits me. Besides, I'd had plenty of face-to-face with a school full of kids and teachers all day.
Prefer the evening pace of my niece and social media for company. I know Al's in the kitchen, cooking and mapping out our Europe itinerary. All's right with the world.
And I've finally worked out who Delta Goodrem reminds me of. Jai'me from Chris Lilley's masterpiece, Summerheights High.
Here's a pic of Moss at her 'station'.