Shorebilly's Swill: Texting While Toddlering
I generally refrain from hitting you in consecutive weeks with stories about my family and my home life for reasons that I’ve previously disclosed. I’ve also however mentioned that on occasion my children unwittingly write this column for me. This is one of those weeks. It couldn’t have come at a better time either because I was having a bit of writer’s block. Nothing tragic happened to me this week, I didn’t do anything really fun or exciting, and nobody at the bar pissed me off enough to write about. So I’ll thank my 16-month-old daughter for this one. The very same daughter who just last week rescued herself from imminent peril by ringing Daddy’s church bells. (If you read last week’s story that makes perfect sense. If not, you might want to check it out.) A text message I received from a very close friend and coworker inspired what you’re about to read.
My daughter, like most toddlers is very curious and energetic. She has a thirst for knowledge and is constantly trying to figure out how things work. She also possesses a genetic predisposition to mischief and sarcasm which I can only assume comes from her Mother’s side. Much to my dismay at times, her favorite toy is Daddy’s cell phone. Her determination and methods of obtaining this device are very impressive. I’m not even sure how she gets hold of it most of the time, and I usually don’t even realize she has it until she’s already reached out to some folks on my contacts list. There are times she manages to even remove it from my pocket without my knowledge. I have no idea how she pulls off this feat, but the stealth and finesse of her technique would leave even the Artful Dodger and Oliver Twist bowing to her and crying, “We’re not worthy.” I’m desperately hoping to rid her of this practice before she’s a teenager going for my wallet.
Once she’s apprehended my communication apparatus, she usually presses buttons incessantly until she hears either music, or a voice on the other end. The only way I ever know when she’s called someone is that once she hears a voice, she opens up the phone which triggers the speaker feature. More often than not, this is the time when I hear hysterical laughter from whomever she’s called. This is when I attempt to reacquire the phone, find out to whom I’m now speaking, and issue a humble apology and explanation. So far, everyone has been a good sport.
Both her vocabulary and her motor skills are rapidly increasing. She’s now graduated to texting. Her little thumb is just long enough to constantly hit the button that leads her to my contact list. From there, I guess certain letters are easier for her to inadvertently hit because some numbers she has called multiple times. Either that, or she’s really fond of sushi. She’s called my favorite sushi restaurant so many times I think I’m black listed. Now whenever I crave carry out Japanese food or some raw fish, I have to either use my wife’s phone, or drive down the street to the 7/11 and use the last surviving pay phone in my area.
She recently called an old friend of mine whom I haven’t spoken to in so long that I didn’t even realize I still had his number in my phone. It’s also been long enough that I don’t think he’s aware of the fact that I now have three more children. This wouldn’t be so bad were it not for the fact that apparently she left a lengthy voice mail. Now, my old friend either thinks that I was having a stroke, or that I’ve been hitting the bottle really hard.
I’ve overheard some of her conversations, and or voice mails to unwilling participants not realizing that she had actually contacted someone. She has a relatively sophisticated vocabulary for a child her age and as I’ve stated, it is rapidly expanding. But she seems to have some favorite words and phrases that she thinks are most appropriate during phone conversations. Her end of the exchange usually goes something like this,
“Ullo, ullo. Momma, momma, momma, cheese. Dadda, dada, dada, poop.”
There’s got to be something symbolic, or even Freudian about the fact that her go to phrases pair up her mother with a dairy product, and her father with excrement. I’m trying not to read too much into it. Overanalyzing this would shatter what little bit of self esteem I have left.
As I mentioned earlier, she’s now graduated to texting. Her messages often read something like this: “qqr9fz33ps7/8gzzzz”. It’s either her tiny little fingers and their underdeveloped skills, or some highly sophisticated language that I’m not nearly bright enough to decipher. I believe it’s the latter. She may even be contacting the Mother Ship, though it’s too early to tell. Somewhere on a very distant planet, my daughter has unintentionally just insulted someone’s lineage. I apologize in advance if my child’s seemingly harmless act triggers some inter-galactic war.
At least when she calls someone, I’m aware of it almost immediately. Texts, on the other hand, may take some time before I realize what she’s done. The other day, I noticed that I had received a text message from the aforementioned friend and coworker. I opened my phone to read it. His message to me simply read: “Hello Natalie.” (I usually don’t use real names, but this wouldn’t make as much sense without doing so.) At first I was a bit befuddled. Then I scrolled down through the exchange between he and I to find that the last message sent from my phone to him simply read; “q”. I now understood what thankfully he picked up on immediately.
I’d like to now issue a formal, blanket and very public apology to anyone whose phone number is programmed into my cell phone ad already has, or will receive an unexpected and bizarre call, voice mail, or text message from my number. I’ll do my best to keep the phone away from her, but she’s like a little ninja, so I can’t make any promises.
I know this one is a little shorter, and more palatable than most of the things that I write. After the quandary I put the editing department in last week, I figured I’d go easy on them this week. This might be the first time ever that every word I wrote actually makes it to print. Thank you guys for being good sports and giving me a long leash.
I’d like to also apologize to anyone who read last week’s article and were left with disturbing mental images. I’ve encountered several people in the last few days who can never look at me the same. I think I was responsible for more bad dreams last week than Chantix and acid flashbacks. I received an email from a close friend this week informing me that fifteen years from now my daughter is going to read that one and be scarred for life.
I hope you all enjoyed this piece. That little girl is the gift that keeps on giving. I’m sure you’ll hear more about her down the road for she is the embodiment of karma. The alternative this week was for me to write my thoughts on our recent Volkswagen/ Audi weekend here at the beach. I’m not sure you would have enjoyed my lengthy, opinionated, bitter rant on that little gem, so I went with the kid story instead. Thanks for playing along everybody.
Until next week,
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