Friday, May 17, 2013

A 'Siri'ous Misunderstanding

On Sunday afternoon, the boys were showing Grandpa some cool things they like to do on the iPad. They don't get much access to the tablet, so this is still a pretty novel activity. On this day, we were using Google Earth to look up our home, the grandparent's house, and local landmarks. Then the boys wanted to ask Siri some questions.

This is usually fun and educational. W typically asks questions such as, "How many miles away is the moon?" and "What is the weather like today?" I'm not sure if it's the pitch of their voices, or that they don't enunciate very well, but Siri often does not understand what the kids say.

Three-year-old S-Man wanted his turn, and exclaimed, "I'm three!" Which actually sounded a lot like he said, "I'm free!"

We watched as Siri "thought" about this request, and finally responded with, "I'm sorry, I couldn't find any matches for, "I'm horny.""

Oh, crap. We need to get Siri's hearing checked.

At first, time stood still for a second, as I stared at the screen in disbelief. Did she really just say that?

Then, my brain started to quickly leaf through the pages of my mental parenting guide. But for this for this situation, it came up empty. There was nothing remotely related to, "Siri mistakenly thinks that my child told her he's horny."

Next, I got the giggles. I looked over my children's heads and realized that my husband and father were also trying to stifle their laughter and smiles. Deep breaths. Use your hand to force the corners of your mouth down.

My husband, who was holding the tablet, quickly removed Siri's response from the screen and we tried to direct their attention to something else.

"What does 'horny' mean?" W asked.

"Oh, that's just a grown-up word," I responded with a wave of my hand, hoping he'd relegate it to the same corner of his mind as such grown-up terms as 'isotope' and 'paradigm shift'. Thankfully, there was no context to the word (I don't even want to know what would have come up, had Siri found matches for the search), so hopefully he thinks it is something he just needs more geometry to understand.

"Oh," he responded, and then we moved on.

Parental controls and supervision are tools you can use to protect your kids from they don't need to see or hear yet at tender ages. But in this case, neither one of those would have worked. There are those parenting moments when unwanted things - a sudden, nasty fall or an erroneous result from Siri - in which things happens quickly and there isn't a single thing you can do to stop it. This was one of them.

I wonder how long it will be until we're brave enough to let the kids ask Siri questions again?

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