If your phone number is stored in my iphone, don’t be surprised to end up with a voicemail message that’s mostly silence punctuated by animal sounds. This happened to my friend, Kathy, last week. She’s smart enough to have figured out more or less what happened. I probably would’ve spent some time wondering if I had a farmer for a stalker.
This was Kathy’s text message to me: “I think Asher got your phone and called me yesterday. Had a 2-minute message and I heard a toy donkey!?!”
In case you haven’t heard, the iphone is the coolest invention ever. Gabe gave me one for my birthday last May and Asher has taken over my obsession with it. He’s two and he can open and close applications, play games, and apparently make prank phone calls.
My first thought about him playing with my iphone went something like this: Oh, hell no. Hell to the no. Hellllllll NO. This was a situation in which my child was not whining.
My second thought about him playing with my iphone went something like this: Well, as long as he doesn’t drop it, it could be really helpful right now. This was a situation in which we were in the grocery store, in the last aisle, I had used every trick I had to keep him happy, and still needed to go back and find the 3 random things I missed on the first go-round, then check out.
I opened a free toddler app I’d downloaded on advice from a friend, handed it to him, and poof! he transformed from about to blow a gasket to quiet, focused and engaged. I was pretty nervous about my phone being in those nubby little mitts so I tried to cup my hand under it as he played. Meanwhile, Asher thought I was trying to take the phone away from him and proceeded to wildly snatch it away. So there’s my iphone jerking around 4 feet above the ground in the hands of someone who can’t reliably hold onto a Cheezit. Still, for the time being, the benefit outweighed the risk.
My third thought about Asher playing with my iphone went something like this: The apps he plays are really educational and good for the development of his fine motor skills. This was a situation in which, well, it was a Sunday. He wanted to play with my phone. I wanted to write about him playing with my phone.
A few downsides worth noting:
1. The addiction factor. Try to take it away and see a full-tilt tantrum. I give Asher a 2-minute warning. He screams anyway.
2. Sticky kid-goo will be all over your phone. Spray a cloth a with a little vinegar mixed with water and wipe down. Then spray down the kid.
3. Be careful around toilets. I know a 2-year-old who decided to test out his mom’s iphone for floatability. It didn’t.
So, depending upon which philosophy you currently hold regarding your toddler and your iphone, here are some app recommendations that are truly, ahem, educational and definitely engaging.
Elmo’s Monster Maker ($2.99)
Tots build their own monsters, choosing hats, eyes, mouths. The monsters dance, interact with Elmo — your kid can even take pictures of their creations to store on your iphone. And yes, you’ll find your camera roll loaded to the eyeballs with random monster pics.
Shape Builder ($.99 or try the lite version free)
Slide colored shapes around to complete puzzles of musical instruments, firetrucks, animals…like the donkey who left a voicemail for my friend, Kathy.
Balloonimals($1.99 or free lite version)
Blow into your phone to inflate the balloon (if your kid’s like mine, your phone’s gonna end up really wet), shake it to twist into place, and touch it to animate. Even your grown-up playmates will have trouble keeping their hands off this one.
A coloring book for your iphone. Use your fingertip to color in the drawings.
Go to the itunes app store and search the names above to download. At least put one of the free lite versions on your phone — just in case. Trust me, there’s gonna come a time when you’ll be really glad you did.