The Twins first got their Nabi tablets about two years ago. We’re conscious of limiting their screen time, but I think anyone with kids can agree that anything that keeps them busy for more than 30 seconds can be a win for everyone at least once in a while. Lately, with both of the Twins sick with colds (and my son somehow contracting a mild case of pneumonia in the over-100-degree Arizona heat), the Nabis have been a fantastic distraction for them while they rest and leave Mommy and Daddy alone for five freaking minutes–maybe six If we’re lucky.
We recently added the YouTube Kids app to their playscape, and they absolutely adore being able to watch videos of grown adults opening toys and ill-conceived animated songs whenever they want, and Mommy and Daddy can rest easy knowing it has an excellent kid-friendly filter. My daughter’s favorite function of the app is the ability to search for videos with voice commands. Like most newfangled contraptions nowadays, she can simply press the microphone-shaped icon, vocally request what her heart desires, and through modern sorcery, the videos magically appear before her eyes.
As my wife and I had the pleasure of taking turns with two snot-nosed four-year-olds (and their boogery six-month-old sister) all week, I decided to compile a list of some of my very favorite YouTube searches I overheard my daughter barking at her Nabi. Feel free to search them yourself, but a fair warning: What you find may numb your mind, bore you to tears, or even disgust you (especially if you’re NOT using that YouTube Kids filter).
Here they are, in no particular order. As you’ll soon see, my daughter has VERY specific tastes.
1. “Superman and Batman costumes with people inside them wearing them singing songs”
Because it is important to clarify that there are people inside the costumes.
2. “Plain Hello Kitty surprise eggs with nothing on them”
When asked I her for clarification, she replied, “I don’t want the eggs to have any pictures on them, but I want them to have Hello Kitty toys in them.” (For those who don’t know, surprise eggs are exactly what they sound like. Think those Easter eggs that you can put stuff in. You’d be amazed how many of YouTube’s servers are filled with people opening f*cking toy eggs.) Continue reading
I took a deep breath as I plopped onto the couch. It had been a marathon day for our family, kicking off with a frantic search for the baskets of goodies the Easter Bunny had hidden for the Twins in the living room the night before, followed by church, a breakfast/Easter egg hunt at my in-laws’, a lunch/extended hangout at my parents’ house (which also included my in-laws), and an epic, multi-generational game of Spoons resulting in literal bloodshed for several family members.
We’d just gotten back home from the festivities at about four in the afternoon. My daughter, who had fallen into a post-candy coma in the car, was still passed out on the couch, while my son was assessing his toy/sweets inventory on the living room floor, unpacking his three Easter baskets (yes, the Easter Bunny visited both grandparents’ houses, too) and lining up his loot.
I am not a napper, but after the day we’d had out in the Arizona heat, I was just about to nod off when the silence was broken.
It was my wife. I’ll admit that my initial reaction was annoyance because she’d used her Desperately Important Tone of Voice, which is usually reserved for Dire Emergencies, like when it is critical that I retrieve a box of her scarves I did not even know existed from the top shelf of our closet, or when a bug that was “crawling across the floor, trying to eat her” turns out to be a ball of lint. You know, the heavy shit.
Sighing lazily, I rose from the couch. “I’ll be right back, Buddy,” I told my son.
“Okay, Daddy,” he said, eyes still on his gear. “I’m just going to sit here and line up all of the things that the Easter Bunny brought me because I got a lot of things and I’m putting them in a line so I can see the ones that I have and then I’m going to play wiff them.”
“Sounds good, Buddy.”
I headed into our bedroom, ready to be underwhelmed by my wife’s latest “crisis.” But when I saw her standing in the bathroom with ET-sized eyes, I knew right away that something was different. This might actually be A Big Deal.
Good News: The Twins have a new favorite game, the classic bubonic-plague-inspired “Ring Around the Rosie,” which they not only enthusiastically sing and play themselves, but also have their legion of Fisher Price Little People perform.
Whenever we’re out running errands, they sing it uncontrollably, as the song is constantly in their heads. They often get stuck in an endless loop of their favorite lyric, “Ashes, ashes.” It is adorable.
Bad News: Their toddler-esque pronunciation of this line sounds remarkably like a certain body part, resulting in the booming, sing-songy repetition of “Asses, asses,” up and down grocery store aisles, while waiting for our food in restaurants, and, of course, in the middle of church.
I used to laugh at my mother.
It would begin with her getting on the phone with a customer service representative. (Keep in mind that this was back in Ye Good Olde Days before Al Gore singlehandedly invented the Internet, when instead of yelling at ambiguous, unhelpful websites or cussing at incompetent live-chat reps in all caps, the only game in town was to actually haggle with a real person about bills, warranties, and Hooked on Phonics.)
While my mother attempted to insult the intelligence of whatever dolt she was dealing with on the other line, some semblance of the following events would transpire.
My two younger sisters, who were a year apart and constant playmates, would be “Doing a Story,” their name for playing out an improvisational narrative with a star-studded cast of Barbies, My Little Ponies, and whichever Legos their brother failed to hide well enough. In choosing which playthings each of them would voice, the oldest of the two would always weasel her way into First Draft Pick.
“I’ll be Malibu Botox Barbie.”
“No! You got to be Malibu Botox Barbie last time we Did a Story!”
“But this is the sequel. I have to be Malibu Botox Barbie again or else we’ll tank at the box office. The fan base expects me, not some young, up-and-coming no-name. Here, you can be Especially Flamboyant Ken.”
“Girls!” my Mom would hiss. “I’m on the phone!”
Fully engrossed in their heated casting session, their battle would rage on without even acknowledging my mother.
“Then be Less-Exciting Sister With the Arm Missing Stacie!”
“Why can’t I be one of those 20 other Barbies?”
“Because I’m Barbie.”
“Stupid rental car,” my wife growled.
“Huh?” I bumbled, snapping out of an exhausted daze. “I thought we liked the rental car.”
Having ventured to Maui with my parents, we’d rented a minivan that would comfortably fit the six of us and our fleet of Traveling Toddler Circus props. Even with the two extra adults there was still plenty of room. Compared to the 4-door sedan we usually cart the kids around in and into which certain strollers only fit one way (when inserted with ninja precision), it was a veritable vehicular vacation on top of our location vacation. In fact, it had inspired us to seek out a van of our own once we returned to Phoenix. Or so I thought as my wife suddenly slandered our steed’s good name.
“We do like it, except for this stupid speedometer. I have no idea how fast I’m going.”
Straightening up on the passenger side, I leaned towards my wife at the wheel to survey the dash. The numbers and gauges shone brightly up at us as we traversed the dark, sans-streetlight coastal road. On this particular night my parents were out on a date and my wife and I were headed back to the hotel with our passed-out munchkins. When it’s just the four of us, my wife usually opts to drive due to her propensity for motion sickness and a particularly vocal flair for back-seat driving. While many of my male peers might see this as gender-role sacrilege, I assure you, this is the optimal driving arrangement.
Examining the dashboard, I saw exactly what my wife was talking about. A digital gauge displayed her speed in kilometers per hour rather than miles per hour.
My eyes still bleary despite a shower and the coffee I was nursing between snips, I zeroed in on the kitchen shear blades as I sliced strawberries for the Twins’ breakfast. A momentary lapse in concentration could end in a crimson sprinkle even harder to clean off our idiotically-stark-white kitchen counters than the strawberries themselves. (No, we did not choose this color scheme, nor do we own this house, so until this fine publication makes me a kajillionaire, we keep plenty of Magic Erasers on hand.)
We’ve just discovered this scissor method, as opposed to the standard knife approach. When you have to cut up food for two one-year-old mouths as often as we do, you’re willing to try just about anything to avoid the monotony of hacking at a plate-full of adult-sized food for what feels like half an hour. Initially, my wife raved about the new method, claiming, “This is awesome! I don’t hate it that much!”
Sadly, the novelty has worn off, and shearing food is now just about as fun as knifing it, but with the added thrill of increased-finger-loss likelihood. Still, I wasn’t feeling very knifey on this particular morning, so I went with the novel annoyance rather than the mounting one.