“Who are you talking too?” I yelled across the room. “Siri,” she replied.
“She set this up the other day and I don’t know how to change it. Can you fix it for me?” she asked. I can’t. Siri and I aren’t friends. I don’t really work with Apple products, and I haven’t taken the time to look into Siri and her settings, but my mother ultimately thinks it’s funny, so she left it. Even though Siri is a little sassy, she appears to be friends with my mother and Lily. I have to admit her voice recognition is good, much better than the autocorrect on my phone, and you don’t have the issue of typing on a tiny keyboard with large fingers. Siri’s fast too. Her answers appear on the screen in seconds. She provides answers in two modes, both visual and auditory. So, why aren’t Siri and I friends?
I think it’s because I’m friends with the written word. I’ve read voraciously my entire life. I’m a decent speller and my crutch is Google. Since I’m often on a computer, if I’m not sure if I’ve got a word right, I open up a new tab, type the word and Google will display the word he thinks I want. Truly, with reflection, Google might be a bit presumptuous, but I know enough about words to get the spelling pretty close. I also know how to use a dictionary, if I want to. I also know I’m biased against Siri. I see her as being the easy way out. I almost see her as cheating – the opposite of learning.
Lily, on the other hand, isn’t friends with words. She has Auditory Processing so she doesn’t hear the way a lot of us do. She hears more like Princess Elderly, with a hearing aid, at the family party. She hears everything and her brain doesn’t differentiate the important sounds. Words have always stopped her.
The 5-Finger Rule for finding a book never worked for us. When she was younger, if Lily came to a word she didn’t know and couldn’t guess immediately she’d throw the book down. I think it’s a little unfair she was blessed with a perfectionist streak along with Auditory Processing Disorder. Lily couldn’t sound words out as she’d never heard them properly and doesn’t quite say them properly. If she was writing and didn’t know a word, she didn’t want to spell it wrong and look dumb, so she just wouldn’t write, at all. It took us a long time to discover what the problem was. Over time, through the blessing of graphic novels and a lot of work, she will read through words she doesn’t know and has memorized a lot of spelling. I’ve spent a lot of time being in the room while homework was being completed.
Last night she was doing homework with Siri beside her. Questions and words popped out of Lily on a regular basis. Siri answered clearly with a visual. Vocabulary homework was a breeze. “What is the definition of agency?” she’d ask. Again the answer would come quickly.
I’ve told others about the friendship and they criticize it too. “She should use a dictionary!” they reply, but to use a dictionary you have to be able to spell to find a word. I don’t want her to shut down out of frustration. I want her to be able to get her ideas out on the page quickly, independently and with confidence. Knowing that her words are spelled correctly gives her a sense of pride.
So maybe, I need to give this friendship some time and space. Siri is always there when Lily needs her. She’s giving her confidence and independence, which is what I ultimately want for all my children. This friendship is working for Lily. She found Siri on her own and likes her. Sometimes as a mother I need to face my own biases, put the helicopter in reverse and let my daughter find her own way.