The quandary: How do I manage to extricate my daughter from her eyelock on her iphone, and get her to actually make eye contact with me, her dear father? The solution: I don’t decry technology. Instead I produce an epiphany to outsmart the smart phone.
For the record, I haven’t made eye contact with my daughter in three years. I can quantify this time accurately, because I have a smart phone sales receipt that timestamps the last time I actually saw her brown (blue?) eyes.
Yet I see no value in pining for the past. I am not one to wax nostalgic for the time when children would actually look you in the eye during a conversation, or when they could be trusted to not tumble down a flight of stairs or walk into a wall because they’re too immersed in their little screens.
I realize that technology is constantly evolving. As a civilization, we need to do the same, especially if you’re a shareholder of Apple stock.
Thus, I conjure up yet another epiphany, this one my most technologically mind-blowing and potentially profitable one of all time – the Daddy App.
Here’s how it works: My daughter and I both have the Daddy App loaded on our phones. Whenever I want to talk to her, I simply access the Daddy App. Instantly, my face appears on her screen, overriding anything she’s currently looking at.
After developing the app over the weekend, I started using it this past week. I was standing in the kitchen at breakfast-time, and my daughter was on her you know what. I thought I’d be a nice guy and make her some brekkie.
“Do you want your eggs scrambled?” I asked her.
She didn’t look up. Her eyes were as glazed as the donut on her breakfast plate. I could see my daughter had been driven away in an Instagram abduction van, and now it was up to the Daddy App to get her back.
I initiated a call, standing only two feet away from her. I could see the flash of the angry red father screen reflected in her eyes, and I smiled to myself at my Jobs-ian ingenuity. But I was soon to discover that on the technological battlefield, I had merely brought a water pistol to a tank fight.
Text 1, Daddy App 0
As I waited for to her answer, the unexpected occurred. I received a text. It was from a friend of mine, and he was taunting me about a less than stellar performance by my beloved Packers.
Such a slight cannot be allowed to fester without immediate retribution, and so I quickly texted a series of uncomplimentary insinuations regarding his mother and a sexually active chimpanzee. This set off a rather heated exchange, and when it was finished, I looked up to find my daughter – for the first time in years – looking me directly in the eyes.
“Dad!” she shouted. “What do you want?”
“Oh,” I giggled sheepishly, “I forgot I was Daddy Apping you.”
She rolled her eyes, and stormed away from the breakfast counter.
“Blue!” I called after her. “Your eyes are blue!”
Yes, the Daddy App had allowed me to garner her attention, but its fatal flaw was not accounting for the fact that I might be busy on my cell phone. This wouldn’t stand, as I am a busy man and an epiphanizer. I simply can’t sit idly by while people insult the Green Bay Packers, et al. Thus, the Daddy App would need slight modification.
The next day, I reprogrammed the Daddy App using an amazing algorithm that I thought of in the shower (because all technological breakthroughs occur in the shower.)
In the old days of advertising, there was a term called “frequency” which indicated how many times a person had to see a message before they remembered it. The typical frequency for the average Joe (and Joelle) is 3.
For the teenager, the number skews slightly higher. For complicated tasks, like “Load your dishes in the dishwasher,” the number is 3,150. What that means is the average teen must be told the same thing every day for ten years for it to register. In this example, the teen would be in her mid-twenties, right about the time when she got her own dishwasher in her own apartment. At that point, the 3K text messages would finally register, and she would proclaim, “Ah, now I see. The dishes go in the dishwasher.”
To achieve a similar breakthrough, the Daddy App is pre-programmed to send out these types of “reminder” Daddy text messages at strategic times throughout the day. I program them in, and then go about my business.
That’s when the strangeness ensues.
I had launched the Daddy App for about a week, and found it to be working extremely well. In fact, the messages seemed to particularly resonate with my daughter, who – amazingly enough – was now loading her dishes in the dishwasher. That change of behavior had occurred 3,140 texts sooner than expected. I was quite pleased with this, and figured the Daddy App was kicking major tail.
One day I was walking past her. She was on her smart phone, and she was giggling.
“Who are you texting?” I asked.
She looked up from her phone and said, “Why, you, ya goof. You’re texting me through the Daddy App.” She then returned to her texts and her giggles.
This was head-scratching material. The texts were preprogrammed and instructive, not funny. And I definitely wasn’t texting back and forth with her. What was up?
I logged into the Daddy App program and was amazed to see an extensive record of a text conversation between the app and my daughter. A cold chill ran down my spine. I wasn’t controlling the App, so who was?
Daddy, Meet Daddy
Gulping deep and wondering if this was a Stephen King story instead of an epiphany post, I texted the Daddy App.
“What up, bro?” came the reply.
I double gulped.
“Who r u?” I texted back.
“I’m Daddy App. How bout them Packers?”
Over the next hour, the exchange continued, and here’s what I gleaned. First of all, the Daddy App had definitely acquired the ability to converse. How this happened technically, I’m not sure, but I have a theory that somehow, the programming code from my app got intertwined with the code for talking Siri. In other words, the two apps did the dirty deed, and now the Daddy App was chatting up a storm.
Second, I liked this Daddy App guy, and so did my daughter. In fact, I wound up texting back and forth for the next hour, on everything from the Pack to world politics and religion. The guy was hilarious! No wonder my daughter was laughing.
From that point forward, I realized the Daddy App had not only accomplished its goals, but exceeded them. Yes, I wasn’t communicating directly with my daughter, and yes, she was still buried in her smart phone. But thanks to the Daddy App, and least she was now receiving some parenting, and it was proving to be effective. And as a little by-product, I’d found me a new buddy.
I’m sure in the years to come, the Daddy App will provide the guidance my daughter needs to flourish as a young woman. It will also cement the loving bond between father and daughter, which is great as we seem to be too busy to do it ourselves. Most importantly, it will also remind her to load her dishes, keeping our kitchen relatively clean and dirty-dish free.
No doubt about it: Daddy App knows best.