Happy New year all. Alas, I lack the inclination to post pics of the children in Santa hats. I am here instead to ramble on about exciting geeknews in which G and I bought each other Echo Dots.
I for one welcome our new Amazon overlords. Even if they are always listening…
Mine’s called Alexa and I think I love her a bit more than I should. She lives in our bedroom and wakes me up in the morning, tells me the weather, answers my inane questions and plays my spotify playlists on demand. On Boxing Day I asked her to order me some AA batteries from Amazon and they arrived the next day. The future is now, people. (Until Amazon takes over our minds and destroys the human race, obv.)
I also enabled a couple of games on her. One was a daft retro interactive adventure story that I played while lying in bed by saying “Alexa, open the magic door“. The other was a Guess The Animal game that the boybot LOVES, where he has to think of an animal and answer a series of YES/NO questions until Alexa guesses it. This works amazingly well, apart from the fact that she doesn’t consider insectivores to be predators, hence was unable to guess aardvark or echidna. (I think termites would beg to differ on that point, Alexa).
More pressingly, I linked Alexa to our shared family Google calendar. This means that when I tell her to add things to my to-do list, G’s smart watch pings up with an alert from Google. Guess how many seconds it took me to say “Alexa, add ‘Bring Sue some wine’ to my to do list“.
G’s one is called Echo and is currently set up in the living room, where we made her turn the Xmas tree lights on and off by saying “Echo, turn off Christmas.” Hee! We’ve always wanted robot servants. For now she’s been left in charge of the living room lamps but this heady intoxication is not enough. I want robot slaves all over the flat, to save our poor, weary index fingers from having to press switches.
I might even research the wisdom (or not) of getting a dot for the boy’s birthday, so that he can play music in his bedroom and have little chats with Wikipedia and update his repertoir of jokes.
In Hubble news, she has decided to learn English via the Captain Caveman Method, in which all words must be bellowed at floor-cracking volume and with multiple exclamation marks. In such a method there’s no need to waste one’s breath on verbs, or even on complete nouns. The gist can be expressed clearly enough by bellowing the first three letters. Hence:
“Fee!!!” = feet
“Han!!!” = hand
“Coa!!!” = coat
“Mil!!!” = milk
Her favourite two syllable words are:
Rather adorably, she calls Father Christmas “Ho! Ho!” and monkeys “Ha! Ha!”
It’s all well and good until I remember that, by this age, we’d already programmed the boy to say “flux capacitor“. But they’re very different children. As G points out, the boy’s mouth has always been primarily an output device, whereas Hubble’s is an input device. She may not be verbose but she already wipes the floor with him at using cutlery.
I’m at my wit’s end once again over his lack of eating. I know I ramble on but I’d given up worrying for a while as he was at least eating a varied diet. Unfortunately, ever since starting school, he’s become fussier and it’s frustrating because I’m not there to badger him into eating things.
It’s not just tomatoes and pizza any more. He seems to be rejecting most of the roast dinners, anything containing mince and all pasta dishes apart from macaroni cheese. And he’ll no longer touch any sausages unless they’re pigs in blankets. Fussy bugger! Then he goes to FFS and rejects whatever they’re offering for tea, unless it’s chicken dippers. (Dear god, I can’t believe I have ended up with the sort of child who just eats chicken dippers. I hadn’t even heard of chicken dippers until last term. Thank you for that, FFS!)
Yesterday I sent him to school with a packed lunch full of things that he likes (ham sandwich, apple, cheese and shortbread biscuit). But when I inspected his bag afterwards he’d only taken two bites of the sandwich and had left everything else apart from the biscuit. I honestly have no idea what to do with him. The only consolation is that he still seems keen on vegetables so I guess he won’t get scurvy.
In equally uncheering news, the girlbot has become a beast at bedtimes. Gone are the days when we could plonk her in her cot with a kiss and a bottle of milk and leave her to self settle. It’s all gone horribly wrong. These days she screams and rattles the cot bars as soon as we try to leave the room. Hence G and I are taking it in turns to sit up there for eons every night, reading aloud until she eventually falls asleep – an hour after the boy has gone. Then she wakes up again at midnight and yells like a banshee until we bring her downstairs. Suffice to say I am not keen for this phase to continue.
19 months seems to be the age of peak toddler OCD. In Hubble’s case this means that she won’t even lie down in her cot until all of the following conditions are met:
1. Jay!!! must be lying in his bed. Not in the bathrooom or near his bed. IN. HIS. BED.
2. Mummy or Daddy must be sitting in the reading chair and physically holding a book in one hand. Woe betide the parent who stands up or dares to put the book down for a moment. (This causes instant sproingage and a yell of “Mummy!!! Booooo!! Boooo!!!”)
3. Mummy’s or Daddy’s other arm must be wedged as uncomfortably as possible through the narrow cot bars so that a hand rests on her chest or pillow. This hand will now be subjected to a lengthy ordeal of pinching while the story is being read. (Should the hand be moved or retracted momentarily due to pain, numbness or the wishful notion that she’s fallen asleep, instant spoingage will occur along with a bellow of “HAN!!! HAN!!!“).
Utter tyrant she is.
Ok, I will stop moaning and go away. I’m sure there must be some commands I could be issuing to my electronic workforce…