People as Apps

My daughter’s speaking vocabulary is still limited to toddler-ese, but one thing she can definitely say is Call Gramma.

She usually does this while pointing at my iPad or my phone. She doesn’t actually mean to make a phone call — she wants to FaceTime, but while she understands the word FaceTime, she can’t say it. Hence, call Gramma.

She says the same to my wife for her other grandmother. She’s enjoyed FaceTiming them both since very early in her life, and now she has the ability to demand it. Once presented with the iGadget in question, she can even navigate to FaceTime and tap on the right contact in the list.

But I realized something the other day that made this adorable tendency a little…odd.

I think my kid thinks her grandmothers are apps.

No, really!

She says “call Gramma” and we do, and then after a few seconds, she wanders off, occasionally stopping by to peer at the screen and giggle. And then, after I’ve signed off, she’ll stroll back over, look at me, and say, “Call Gramma.”

Unlike a couple of months ago, she doesn’t summon forth her grandmothers so that she can interact with them. She just conjures them to the screen, giggles at them, and then goes about her business. And that conjuring part can happen over and over!

She doesn’t understand wi-fi, video calling, networking, or even distance. All she knows is this: When she wants to see Elmo, she taps on an icon and he’s there. When she wants to drop shapes into holes in her favorite game, she taps on an icon and it’s there.

And when she wants to see a grandmother…

She taps on an icon…

There’s no need to engage, then. No need to “stay on the line”1 because there’s always another tap. “Call Gramma,” run around and play, “call Gramma” again, run around some more, “call Gramma…” Lather, rinse, repeat.

Don’t worry — this isn’t a post in which I rail against the demons of technology. My daughter will realize soon enough that her grandmothers don’t live inside the iPad, always waiting, always ready to heed the call of her persistent, tiny finger taps. In the meantime, it’s sort of hilarious to watch, as she invokes the holy tap-tap-tap and delights herself with her grandmothers, over and over and over again.



  1. Oh, man, how old does that make me sound?

Damn, I’m Old

Whenever we give Leia a bath, I get this damn commercial jingle stuck in my head. I finally tracked it down on YouTube…only to discover it’s from 1980.

1980.

A million years ago. And I can hear it in my head like yesterday.

Damn, I’m old.

One Year Later…

Icing on baby handUp more than twenty-four hours with no sleep, I was beyond tired, but it didn’t matter. I was the only one awake, so they gave her to me.

There were three of us in the room — my wife (asleep now, finally), a nurse, and me.

No, wait — four of us. Four. There would always now be one more person in the room than I was used to.

The nurse bathed her and washed her hair…a little roughly, I thought. My brain maxed out on stress hormones and glee and sheer exhaustion, I had my first moment of true Dadness, thinking, She’s being too rough. I should stop her. I should tell hospital management that this nurse is too rough with the newborns.

(A couple of days later, the same nurse discharged us. No longer sleep-deprived, I saw her as a friend, not an enemy. Especially when she stopped in the middle of examining my daughter to exclaim, “My God, you look just like your daddy!”)

In that quiet, nigh-empty delivery room that had — moments ago — been crowded and loud, the nurse handed me my daughter. “She likes having her hair washed. Remember that.”

Well, OK. In that moment, it seemed surreal and useless information.

“She’s really something,” the nurse said, and smiled, and left.

I stood there, a dad for all of forty-five minutes, holding my daughter as though she would break. My mind bifurcated, half of it focused on the moment, the other half thinking, Are you kidding me? They’re just gonna leave her with me?

But there was no one else. My wife was blissfully asleep (probably the only peaceful sleep she would enjoy for the next few months) and I was on-deck. I cradled the little critter in my arms, trying to hold on tight without also crushing her. It seemed impossible, this minor task, and I reminded myself that somehow cavemen had managed to hold their kids without killing them. Surely I could figure it out, too.

She slept. She’d had a rough day, too. Being born isn’t for weaklings.

Those first moments terrified me, but in retrospect, I am glad for them. In all the craziness and adrenaline of birth, there was precious little time to relax and enjoy her. Now, only an hour or so after she came into the world, I had her all to myself. For a little while, at least.

My wife slept and I paced the room (I was actually afraid to sit down, thinking if I did so, I would fall asleep, too) for what felt like hours, but was probably only thirty minutes or so. I did my best to turn off my thoughts and just enjoy the moment(s), drinking in her wrinkled little face, her nearly invisible eyebrows, her tiny, uncoordinated little limbs. She was a mass of potential, of helpless cries and coos, a fourth trimester fetus who could barely see or move. A little bit of nothing who was something.

A year later, that wrinkled face is full-cheeked, a squirrel storing acorns for the winter. The eyebrows have come in, and those uncoordinated limbs now obey her commands (mostly).

She points to the books she wants, the toys she wants, the kitchen implements she is not going to get her hands on until she’s, like, twenty-three. She staggers around the apartment like a drunkard, mumbling encouragements to herself. She lights up when she’s tired and you ask if she needs a nap. She occasionally says something close enough to “Dada” that I’ve decided she either knows who I am or is deeply fascinated by deconstruction. (I’m fine with it either way.)

She’s figured out how to activate the screen on my Apple Watch and she laughs hysterically when she sees either of her grandmothers, and she loves nothing more than listening in on a conversation between Daddy and Siri.

The nurse was right: She was something.

One year later, she’s everything.

WiRL: “We have different brains”

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Episode 35: The One with No Baby

Our intrepid podcasters take a huge step as parents. Vacation Brain turns out to be Creative Brain. What do you do when you have a great idea to improve your book…that you’ve already submitted? Spouses reading each other’s email. Plus, Morgan reads a newspaper. An actual newspaper.

WIRL: Babies & Bar Mitzvahs

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Episode 20. Holy crap. We’re still doing this! And they said it wouldn’t last…

Some more discussion of the Leap. Morgan’s plans are foiled by the evil that is Microsoft copy protection. Barry’s views on #firstworldproblems. “Books happen in the time that they take.” The value of twenty minutes and the Twenty Minute Time Suck.