Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Parenting with the iPhone (may it rest in peace)

My iPhone 3GS died today at 8:35 am.  It was one month away from being 2 years old.  One minute, it was playing ‘Flashlight’ as Jack was holding it in his arms with a wide smile on his face and a groovy shake in his booty.  He was dancing and running all over the bedroom while I was putting away clothes.  Jack went into the bathroom, which is fine, he always goes in there.  Loves climbing into his mom’s shower.  Then, just as Parliament was pleading to “Help him find the funk”, the unthinkable happened.


I ran to the bathroom to find the iPhone at the bottom of the toilet bowl, with Jack looking longingly inside.  You see Jack is obsessed with putting stuff inside of other stuff, and garbage cans, toilets, and any other open object have become the receptacle for his stuff. 

With reckless abandon, I thrust my hands deep into the toilet water and grabbed the phone.  It was still sputtering…much softer now.

 “Now I lay me down to sleep, I guess I’ll go count the sheep, Oh but I will never dance”.

And those were the last words I heard from that sweet sweet smartphone. 

I rushed downstairs, took it out of its case, and helplessly tried to push the button.  Nothing.  I tried to plug it in, and the little apple came on, ever so faintly.  If the little apple came on, maybe it’ll be OK, right?  Then it went blank. 

In pure desperation, I grabbed a blow-dryer and the tool box and went down to the basement.  How in the heck do you open those things anyway?  Just as a doctor has to break a few ribs to get to the heart when someone is in cardiac arrest, I cracked open that case as best I could, turned the blow-dryer on cool, and let it run in a hopeless and vain attempt to resurrect it. 

Three hours on blow-dryer life support, and still no signs of life.  Jack woke up from his morning nap, I threw him in the car with a handful of Cheerios to stave his hunger, and we tore off to the Apple store at the mall. 

“What happened”, they asked, as I showed them the mangled phone which was now missing a volume and on button as a result of my heroic life-saving attempts.  I pointed to Jack and muttered something about the toilet, trying to hold back my tears.  They laughed, but said it was pretty much useless. I guess the iPhone 3GS was so old that it has a do not resuscitate (DNR) order. 

All day, I’ve been reminiscing about that phone.  Having flashbacks.  I’ve been meaning to write a blog post about it, and how it was single-handedly the best tool we’ve had for raising Jack this past year.  In fact, I kept notes of posts I wanted to write right on the iPhone for quick access when the thought occurred to me.
Here’s a list of the things I remember most about the iPhone and Jack:
  • The background picture I had on my phone, with all the apps in the foreground, was Jack’s beautiful mom smiling while sitting on a volcanic black sand beach in Hawaii.  She was glowing, having been pregnant with Jack for a little over a month; at that point, life was perfect.
  • During Jack’s pre-natal development, every Sunday morning, Jack’s mom and I would read about his development on ‘What to Expect’s pregnancy tracker app’.  We’d read about what organs were developing, what fruit he was the size of that week (an olive, peach, melon), and other fun facts.  It was one of the highlights of our week.  Then we'd take a picture of her growing belly with the iPhone to add to the album.
  • In the delivery room, just as Jack emerged all covered in goo and was whisked over to get weighed and measured, I wiped out my iPhone and snapped some pictures.
  • Throughout the early months of Jack’s life, we were pretty much permanently attached to him.  He slept on us, ate on us, peed on us, you name it.  Without that iPhone, I’d have gone insane.  Playing Angry Birds for hours on end, doing email, surfing the web, reading, whatever. 
  • Jack was terrible in the car seat.  He hated it so much, that even a 20 minute drive was an eternity.  The only thing that helped was YouTube videos of Baby Einstein played on the iPhone
  • Every picture and video I’ve taken of Jack from the time he was born ‘til this morning was taken on my iPhone.  I can text/email them to grandparents, uncles and aunts, cousins, and whomever in seconds flat so that it seems like we’re not so far away.  For his 1 year birthday I made a slideshow of all of the pictures and a collage video of all of the videos, and it was awesome.
  • When traveling or otherwise on the go, we use a ‘baby monitor’ app so that you can place one iPhone next to Jack while he’s sleeping and it’ll call another phone when he wakes up.  (disclaimer, this does not mean you can go out for dinner and drinks).
  • Google on the iPhone is consulted for every issue, every malady, every question about the baby
  • The iPhone GPS gets us to every playground in a 5 mile radius or pretty much anywhere else we have to go.
I left the store with a new iPhone 3GS for $50. The clerk tried to get me to upgrade to an iPhone 4, and I could have even waited for the 5 to come out.  But, I loved that 3GS so much; it carried with it so many memories of this early part of Jack’s life. So, I've decided that I’m going to put the new one in the same case as the old one, download the backup onto it, and pretend this morning never happened… 

Except that Jack no long gets to play with the iPhone while we’re grooving to Parliament.


  1. Were those really the last words your iPhone uttered? No way, you're taking artistic license.

  2. Sadly, I was the one responsible for killing my last "4" when I got out of the car and forgot it was on my lap. *pop*

    It took one other nasty hit when I was carrying my sleeping girl in my arms, and (idiotically) carried the phone under my chin. Of course I forgot it was there.

    One thing I do feel blessed about is that my girls can play with the phone in one place without trying to kill it. I have friends whose kids will just toss it like a ball.

    Still, I think there shouldn't be any "shake the phone" features on kid's apps.

    And always, always, always disable in-app purchases. Kids game makers know exactly what they're doing when they make it $99 for $10 worth of in-app "fun coins" aka "credit card killers."