An iPad is technologically (and economically) vastly beyond me; no offence to Diana, but how is my chubby-fingered, not-so-delicate toddler going to manage one?
But then D's daddy recently upgraded his BlackBerry and came home with an iPhone. And started downloading children's apps. At which point I realised that the secret to manageable parenting isn't in listening to your child, or being patient, or teaching discipline: it's downloading a variety of mobile apps to tame your toddler no matter their mood, or the environment.
Or put another way: Mobile apps are the reason parents of toddlers are able to leave the house, get on a bus, eat lunch out and not get driven to madness by endless tantrums. If only I'd known this sooner, I could have prevented a lot of tears (mine and D's).
D really loves music, so the first app we downloaded was Wheels on the Bus by Duck Duck Moose, swiftly followed by the company's Old MacDonald Had a Farm. As the songs play, D can swish the wipers, move the wheels, pop bubbles and make chickens cluck, among other things, and Daddy and I can record our (tone-deaf but not to D's ears) voices singing the lyrics.
Diana's speech is definitely improving day by day, but I am a bit worried she hasn't been as motivated to learn to speak since she makes herself so well understood by shrieking and pointing. My new plan is to make a conscious effort to stop speaking in made-up slang and to start teaching my daughter real words, which involves a lot of reading and repetition.
Since D has her favourite books memorised by now, I needed some new inspiration for vocab-building, so we got an app called Sound Touch, which has pictures of different farm and jungle animals, birds, musical instruments and household objects that make a noise when you touch them (different dogs barking, piano tunes, washing machine noises, etc). Considering I started playing with it when I first woke up this morning (Angry Birds is beyond me), with no Diana in sight, I'd call myself as much of a fan as D.
The most recent app we downloaded came highly recommended by a friend with a two-year-old and is a drawing app called Doodle Buddy, which lets you draw/paint/stencil/smudge/stamp on a blank canvas, a screenshot or a photo of your choice (hence the masterpiece above of Diana doing "kissy face").
I'd like to think these apps are serving a somewhat educational purpose, but even if they aren't, they are definitely an anxiety-quasher for parents of toddlers and can keep children happy and occupied for long stretches of time (well, five minutes, but that's the difference between a happy kid and a screaming, sobbing disaster).
There is one problem, though. Since D and I jointly discovered the allure of the apps, Diana's daddy can never seem to get his phone back.