Thursday, September 4, 2014

Science Experiments

Before he was a movie star and an awards show host and a bestselling author, Steve Martin was a stand-up comic. I had his record albums (remember record albums?), and there was a particular schtick that was funny then ... and hilarious once I was a mom. It's from his 1978 "A Wild and Crazy Guy."

"I got a great dirty trick you can play on a three-year-old kid. See, kids learn how to talk from listening to their parents (evil laugh). This is a good one. So, what you do is you have a three-year-old kid and you want to play a dirty trick on him, whenever you're around him, talk wrong. So now it's like his first day at school and he raises his hand, 'May I mambo dogface in the banana patch?' Give that kid a special test."

A wise woman told me that "Having a child is the greatest act of faith you can commit." I agree with this. But, they're also our best ever art project. Talk about a blank canvas! Talk about creative opportunity!

Once, when my daughter was about two, we went down to New York to visit my family, and brought my younger brother back with us. So, basically, this thirtyish single man spent five hours in the backseat next to his toddler niece. After a while, he must have gotten bored so he started feeding her pieces of candy and then timing how long it took for the sugar to kick in enough so that she got hyper.

"Stop it!" I scolded from the front seat. "She is not a science experiment! Stop it! Stop it!"

Now, with that same daughter almost-seventeen, we're going through quite an interesting experiment again — one that may blow up in our faces.

Two days ago, my daughter's iPhone seized up. It froze. Not on any usable screen, mind you. It froze on the apple start up screen. Wouldn't synch, wouldn't restart, wouldn't shut down. Dead, dead, dead. Dead as a doornail, Mr. Dickens. 

She was heading to the stable when she informed me of the device's untimely demise. She was somewhat irritated, of course, but simultaneously supernaturally calm. She plugged it into the old car's cigarette lighter (remember cigarette lighters?) and hoped for the best. She arrived a half an hour later and the phone was still ... dead.

What does a concerned parent do in the face of a Macintosh product crisis? Make an appointment at the Genius Bar, of course. Strangely enough, there were no time slots available for three days. This would corroborate my daughter's theory that this was actually the start of a global iPhone armageddon. Nevertheless, I grabbed the first available appointment (and backed up my own iPhone, just in case).

So, here's where the experiment comes in ...

Can my daughter survive — can life itself exist — without texting, browsing through pictures, Facebook-ing, Instagram-ing, Vine-ing or playing solitaire?

What reaction will we get at the Apple Store? Will they give her a new phone? (Unlikely.) Will I buy her a new phone? (Very unlikely.) Will she have to subsist with a disposable flip phone until our AT&T contract is up so we can get a new smart phone at a discount? (Strong possibility.)

As many experiments do, this one has already yielded some surprises. For once, I am somehow not to blame. Whoa! Maybe my daughter is growing up. Maybe she realizes that there are some things out of even my control.

Or maybe she's just glad I didn't teach her to talk wrong.

If you enjoyed this post, I invite you to order a copy of my new book Lovin' the Alien at

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