Fun with Siri and a teenager*

I can’t remember if I mentioned that I finally upgraded to an iPhone 5 from my previous dinosaur-era model (deductible business expense, wooo!), which means I am only recently learning the wonders of Siri. Siri and I have a somewhat difficult relationship, although nowadays if I say to her, “Siri, what’s my name?” she will gamely respond, “Your name is Miriam. But because we are friends, I get to call you Mir.” (I don’t know if we’re truly friends, but I appreciate that Siri knows how to ingratiate herself.)

It’s true that this phone means I am forever feeling my age; last night at play rehearsal I tried to record something and somehow completely screwed it up (because pushing the big red RECORD button is too hard…? I don’t know if I didn’t record it or if I somehow didn’t save it), and a younger, smarter cast member was kind enough to email her recording to me. But it’s also true that I am grateful to technology, and this phone in particular, because Chickadee communicates best with her thumbs, and I am trying to keep up.

It used to be that when she was texting me and I was in the car, she would get annoyed when I didn’t answer, and then my entire drive would be punctuated by dings and whistles as she typed “BEEP BEEP!” fifty gajillion times in a row. Because THAT’S not annoying. Thanks to Siri, I can now text while I drive.

Uh, you know I mean that I can just ask Siri to read me her texts, and then I can dictate texts back, right? I don’t text while I drive. At least not the taking-my-eyes-off-the-road, using-my-fingers kind of texting. THAT’S ILLEGAL, KIDS! Is there a name for what I’m doing when I’m just letting Siri be my secretary? Dictation texting? Dictexting? (Wait, that one might be something else entirely….) Voicing? I don’t know. The point is, she texts, I talk, and it amuses us.

Yesterday as I was driving around (not, like, randomly; I had an appointment and then I went to pick Monkey up from school) I made the SUPEREXCITING discovery that I can say “smiley face” and Siri will, indeed, insert an emoticon. Yes, I’m sure everyone on the planet except me already knew this. I then arrived at school early and was sitting in the parking lot, continuing the conversation—which quickly devolved, as you’ll see—and then later there was more from when I was driving again. You can always tell which parts are from Siri because Siri has a little wax in her ears, and often comes up with something pretty-close-yet-stupid-and-ungrammatical when I tell her things. (GOD, SIRI. Get a copy of Strunk & White already!)

Anyway, my daughter is… well, a teenager. And she makes my life, and especially my drive time, infinitely more educational. Behold:

It’s true this is not exactly what I pictured when I first considered what long-distance parenting might be like. Then again, before I had teenagers, I had never really considered that I might NEED to know how to textually represent a drunk koala (and, um, other things). THE MORE YOU KNOW!

*Upon reflection, my originally-threatened title for this post seemed like it might attract the wrong sort of readers and/or Google hits, hence the change.


  1. Becky

    I freaking love your kid.

  2. carrie on

    For the longest time I thought <3 was something dirty and not a heart.

  3. Issa

    I love this. Drunk koala is a new one. Leave it to a teen to know all the great things.

  4. Midj

    Seconding Becky!

  5. Tracy B

    I didn’t know Siri did all that! See, you taught me something today and Chickie, well, she taught me A LOT. TMI! But I just sent a mass text about the koala. I ♥ that one!

  6. Little Bird

    That was awesome!!! Now I’m trying to remember the ones I know, but none of theme compare to Chickies!!

  7. suburbancorrespondent

    I’m so technologically impaired that I don’t even understand most of this post.

  8. deva at deva by definition

    I am laughing SO hard right now. My fiance has an iphone 5. Mine is a 4. We don’t dictate texts to one another, but we do see what we can get Siri to be most confused about. Right now it’s “how to pronounce Margot”

    See, sometimes, she pronounces it mar-gott. And other times? Mar-go.

    Siri’s weird. How did she read those emotes to you??

  9. Mir

    Deva, even though Siri understands “smiley face,” “winky face,” and “frowny face,” she tried to just name all the punctuation marks for me when Chickie sent all those examples. So we’re driving along and I tell Siri to read me the incoming text and she says, “You have a new text message from Chickadee.” Then as she’s reading it she goes into “Colon dash capital F” and such and Monkey was dying laughing. “WHAT IS GOING ON??? IS SIRI BROKEN OR IS CHICKIE DOING SOMETHING WEIRD?”

  10. Arnebya

    I love your textual relationship. I had to stare at <=3 a minute until OH. And the drunk koala appears to be doing the hula. I like him. And I love using inappropriate titles but you're right; sometimes we don't want to attract, um, certain people (someone searched sex with shoes and landed on my blog and well, yeah, although it's not the exact words, I should've changed the title.)

  11. Victoria

    waiting for Chickie’s comment(s). She’s a hoot.

  12. MichaelB

    Well I just learned something…

  13. Kate

    Hee, hee hee. (She typed with her iPhone, having not upgraded to the fancy dictation model…!)

    Your text exchanges are excellent. And many props to you both for capitalization and punctuation!

  14. Michelle

    Hmm, thank you for the smile and for the new discussion material to share with my 14 year old. . .it’s always so eye opening the things she knows(and my goodness she is good at innuendo–so much for the nice catholic girl I thought I was raising ;)). I still have an iPhone 3 so me and my dinosaur don’t have siri privileges–I’ll look forward to that.

  15. bonuela

    you could have responded to her <=3 with ( * )( * ), but my favorite emoticon is \m/ 'cause i rock!! :-)

  16. addy

    Ummm yeah. I guess I’m missing out with my Droid.

  17. Chickadee

    I am so very honored that you put my wisdom on the internet for all to see.

    Just found this though, thought I should share:
    C=}>;*{)) Mega-smiley… A drunk, devilish chef with a toupee in an updraft,
    a mustache, and a double chin

    (I can’t take credit for that one)

  18. Brigitte

    More wisdom, we bow down before thee!

    (about as complex as I get with MY emoticons)

  19. Jamie

    LOVE this! Good thing I put my conference call on mute as I was laughing so much. Love that girl!

  20. Corey

    No wonder my 14-y-o daughter thinks I’m so dumb…I am! Oy. Thanks for the education.

  21. diane

    When I got to the emoticon penis, I blew soup out my nose. Mostly because doing that to my stuffy mother would have resulted in immediate grounding. Thank you for being cooler than that. Also, I am 11.
    There is a road here called Touhy pronounced Two-hee. But Siri says it as “Tow-hai”. Um, sure, because that’s logical.

  22. Karen

    That ASCII art WAS way cooler.

    Siri knows my name is Karen, but because we are friends, she calls me Your Highness. It took the iPhone to finally have my rightful title returned to me.

  23. Kristina

    Excellent post! I tried the iPhone 5 with my new upgrade and returned it for another Droid. My old Incredible would do dictation as does my new DNA. I have not thought to check but if my daughter’s old basic LG does read texts, I am sure the droid does too. It is always interesting to see what the dictation comes out as. Siri is apparently better versed than the android transcription, I will give you her that. We had fun torturing Siri while I had it. She would often scold us for asking silly questions.

  24. Melissa

    I’m crying here from laughing so hard. NICE HALO Chickadee!

  25. Cathy

    Chickie, that was some seriously cool ASCII!

    Also, I do not know how I feel about Siri. I was messing with her on my sister’s phone and asked her where I should bury a dead body. She immediately asked me if I wanted a list of nearby cemetaries, parks and dumps!!

  26. Angela

    I think this makes me old, but I am trying to figure out how you got all of that text in one screen shot!

    My 6 yo knows how to do more things on my phone than I do. :-P (sticking my tongue out)

  27. Mir

    I took about 5 screen shots and pasted them together in Photoshop. (That was something I knew how to do, because it didn’t involve emoticons….)

  28. Fairly Odd Mother

    OK, not only did I not know you could ask Siri to read texts AND have her send them back, I also thought you must have the Apple iPhone 5x-longer-than-everyone-else’s-i-phone version to get such a LONG screen shot. But, I’ve read your comment, and now realize I am just hopelessly stuck in 1999.

  29. Chris

    That is very funny. And a another of the technologically illiterate, I didn’t get what the other body part was until I read it in the comments. :) (and that is usually as fancy as I get)

  30. Jen B

    OMG both Brian and I were cracking up reading this – I love chickadee! ;)

  31. Julia

    Chickadee doesn’t do emojis? (the little colorful smiles and characters) I got harassed into adding them to my phone by some friends, but they are super fun sometimes.
    Here’s how:

    To enable emoji from the keyboard settings in iOS:

    Tap Settings > General > Keyboard
    Tap International Keyboards
    Tap Add New Keyboard
    Locate and tap Emoji
    Once emoji is enabled, you can access the emoji keyboard by tapping the globe icon to the right of the space bar: .

  32. Heather

    I feel so enlightened now ;-)

  33. not supergirl

    I fully intend to embarrass my kids with some of these now. Well, maybe not the 9 year-old, but definitely her big sister. Thank you both for sharing.

    And, geesh, it has to be called pussy face if you’re going to refer to it in the same sentence as half a vagina.

  34. Elizabeth

    I think android can indeed take and read dictation! Mine takes it; I don’t drive and wouldn’t have texts read allowed on the subway, so I don’t know about reading texts aloud.

  35. Stimey

    I cannot wait for my kids to have their own phones.

  36. Brenda

    Oh, I badly needed this laugh!

  37. Liz

    Reason #45,897 why I want an iPhone and why my kids do not me to have an iPhone.

  38. Liz

    *want* me to have (Siri would also need to be a mind reader)!

  39. matinyoupi

    My sons are still too young to teach me funny smileys and how to use my Iphone 5… but I’m in no hurry that they do… I can live in nescience, it suits me all right.
    I didn’t know I could dictate messages. I’m going to fumble with the beast right now…
    I went from no phone at all to an Iphone 5… and I’m surprised at how addictive it is for a cave woman like me.

    I’m also amazed at how my 3 years old navigates her way on the Iphone to get what she’s looking for. Whenever she sees a phone now, she touches the screen to navigate through it and is annoyed when I tell her that “no, it won’t work with Daddy’s old blackberry…” (hahaha), it makes me feel old.

    Thank you for this enlightening post…

  40. Daisy

    My 21-year-old has an iPhone and uses Siri because he’s blind. Siri doesn’t always get it right, though. Amigo sent me a text two days ago telling me that my cousins had a new baby girl named Napoleon.

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