photo by davelawler (flickr/creative commons)

Son, my smartphone isn’t actually attached to my hand

A letter to my month-old child

Dear Son,

I know you’re still getting used to this world, and everything is brand new. Your eyes are just beginning to focus and see the things and people around you. I have some news that’s going to seem confusing, but I wanted to tell you now, before too much time passes. My smartphone — the very device on which I’m writing this letter, in between candid photos I’m trying to snap every time your face contorts into something that looks a tiny bit like a smile — is not actually attached to my body, but is in fact something I am able to let go of, even though you’ve never seen me do that.

I’m sure you can understand that a lot of the time, my smartphone is a really useful thing to be holding while your mommy and I are taking care of you. See, you’re often sleeping, and as fascinating as it is to watch you sleep, I also like checking my e-mail, reading people’s status updates on Facebook, and finding coupon codes to help us save up to 20 percent on diapers, wipes, and other things I never expected to be spending so much money on. Like blankets. You have a lot of blankets.

It’s also nice to be able to instantly read frightening message board posts that sort of but don’t quite answer every question I have about your care. Are the hiccups dangerous? JunkieMama426, loyal community poster on BabyCenter, thinks they might be, and that’s good enough to scare me into forty-five more minutes of research. How else could I read abstracts of journal articles I don’t understand while also swaddling you in one of your many blankets, if I weren’t constantly holding my smartphone?

Oh, I think that was a half-smile. Or gas. If it was a smile, can you do it again? I paused my game of Letterpress and switched back to the camera app, so I’m ready. I’m zoomed in right on your face, so this would be a great time to half-smile again. No, no, half-smile, not nostril flare. Don’t worry, we’ll practice when you’re awake. Oh, no, the clicking of the shutter sound just woke you up. I keep meaning to see if there’s a way to turn the camera sound off without muting the phone. I should Google that. Good thing I have my phone right here, so I can do that now.

I hope you stop darting your eyes away from mine. I just read an article in the New York Times saying that could be a sign of autism. I read it while changing your diaper. I used to be able to maintain eye contact, I promise. Don’t learn from me. Just because my eyes keep switching between your face and this video on YouTube of a baby I don’t even know doing something that isn’t even that cute doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep looking at me. I need you to keep looking at me so I get a good picture to send to your grandparents. Oh, I think your grandparents are calling. I guess I’ll finish catching up on missed tweets a little bit later. Don’t worry, I can easily scroll through Twitter while I burp you.

Yes, my left hand looks like a mirror image of my right one, just like yours, even though you’ve never seen it when it’s not holding my smartphone. And, yes, even though you won’t fully understand object permanence for months (according to an article I read while giving you a bath), I should by my age understand that if I put my phone down, it won’t disappear, and it will still be there after you go to sleep. All of my e-mails will still be there, everyone’s Facebook status updates will still be there, and I will still be able to watch a video of a laughing turtle.

What did parents do before smartphones? I don’t know. Maybe I should Google that question and see what JunkieMama426 thinks. Oh, you’re reaching for the phone? You want to check your e-mail, too? Sorry, no screen time until you’re two. It’ll prevent you from becoming too distracted. Wait, where did I put your blanket? Whatever, I’ll just order you yet another one from Amazon. Done, it’ll be here tomorrow.

I love you, and you look adorable through this Instagram filter. Don’t move. Okay, now move, because I think it’s a bad thing if you’re not moving. I should Google that. Okay, good, you made a move. Terrific. And so did my Letterpress opponent, so I should probably get back to that.

Sweet dreams,
Daddy