“Goodbye Mom, Hello Siri” – Meeting My Replacement


My daughter turned 13 last Tuesday.  A month before her birthday, I received the following useful email (I was in the same room with her when she sent it).

Mom — I feel that in past birthdays, I have been not been the happiest girl with what presents I get.

I get that you are trying your best, but just to help you out…I only want one thing for my birthday. The iPhone 4 (not 4s).  The black one.

Love you,


Parenting a teenager takes a thick skin.  I tried to look on the bright side.  She was communicating.  Showing her assertive nature.  Being clear.  Giving me plenty of time to respond.

I got her the iPhone 4 (my rebellion: I got her the 4S).  In black, like she wanted.

Please do not tell me my daughter is spoiled.  I know that already.

And she has been one very, very happy girl since she opened the box with the little gray apple on the cover on her birthday morning.  That magic container is her generation’s Tiffany eggshell blue box.  Pure joy inside.

Little did I know my replacement lived in there too.  Kind of like I Dream of Jeannie.  Except that her name is Siri.

In case you don’t know Siri, she’s a software app available exclusively on the new iPhone 4S. Technically speaking, Siri offers natural voice recognition artificial intelligence that’s been 40 years in the making.  She lets you use your voice to send text messages, make calls, set reminders, lob random questions, and more.  You can ask Siri anything.  Just speak naturally.  Siri understands you.  Even I agree – Siri is one amazing girl.

Apple claims that Siri has no gender.  Who are they fooling?  Of course Siri is a girl.  Really, she is a mom.  Your artificial mom.  The perfect mom.  She never complains.  She never speaks until spoken to. She tries really hard to figure out what you want. She brings you everything you need right away – she’ll look up restaurants, make doctors’ appointments, call you a taxi, find directions to your date’s house.  I even think she’ll get you a glass of milk – a virtual glass, but it looks delicious.  And she won’t get mad if you spill it.

My daughter has been talking to Siri ever since she fired up the iPhone.  I hear them all over the house, having conversations that go like this:  “Siri, what’s the weather going to be like tomorrow?  Siri, what is 12 times 67?  Siri, what’s the closest store that sells black tights?”

In other words, every question she used to ask me.

Tonight, I was getting dinner ready for the kids.  It’s one of the only services I can still actually provide them in today’s tech-savvy world.  As I was heating up chicken, roasting pumpkin seeds, and ladling out applesauce, daughter number two was peppering me with questions as she wrote an essay for fourth grade.

“Mom, how do you spell ‘children’?  How do you spell ‘pineapple’?  How do you spell ‘alphabet’?”

Finally I told her no more questions.  Mercy! I was trying not to burn dinner.

My 13-year-old helpfully took charge.

She grabbed the iPhone off the counter.

Then she handed it to her younger sister.

“Don’t ask Mom anymore,” she whispered to avoid irritating me.  “Just ask Siri.”



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