If You Give a Toddler a Cell Phone

If you give your toddler a cell phone, chances are he’ll know enough about the apps to find the little red square with the white triangle known as YouTube.

He’s going to ask you to search the first cartoon that pops in his head, which will also be the most mind numbing and the last one you’d pick. After you search it, he’ll point to one and then another, changing his mind faster than your data can change IP addresses, finally pressing the one he pointed to first.

Once he watches the video, he’ll laugh out loud, garnishing everyone’s attention within a 100 ft radius. You’ll smile and nod as you look down into the face of the child you love so much, secretly wishing you’d actually changed out your jogging pants and found the time to run a brush through your unwashed hair.

When he sees the attention he’s gained, he’s going to try your patience, just for the fun of it. He’s going to see the cookies the stockmen always make sure are on the end cap of every register of every grocery store in America. When he sees the cookies, he’s going to ask for them and reach as far as he can out of the buggy.

Thankfully, his arms aren’t long enough and can’t reach them.

But you can, so you put the cookies in the cart, albeit reluctantly, to avoid making a scene. When you put them in the cart, you’re going to remind your little love the cookies are for after breakfast.

When you tell him this, he’s going to fake cry, the cry where he scrunches his face and tries to make the tears come even though he’s not really upset enough to bring the water works. He still tries, though, and you’re going to pretend to care. You’ll pat his back and tell him he’s okay. You’ll remind him of his Fruit Loops, the ones you promised him for breakfast before you realized the milk was four days past expired and a trip to the grocery store was needed to make the promised cereal.

When you mention the cereal, he’ll only whine more. This is when the fake cry will stop being cute and start being annoying. Your pretend concern to appease him will transform into aggravation and you’ll feel your voice harden. You’ll warn him if he doesn’t stop crying he won’t get the cookies at all, which will make him cry that much harder. His shenanigans will turn the once smiles of adoration of the passing customers into frowns, and you’ll avert your eyes, pretending you don’t see them. Once again, you’ll wish you had brushed your hair.
Then, you’ll remember the cell phone and point to the wondrous piece of technology he holds in his hands, the colorful screen lighting up as you touch it.

He’ll push the play button on the screen and his cries will trail off, until they dissipate entirely. The once noisy cartoon will be music to your ears compared to the crying it replaced. Your child will giggle, and a smile will once again spread across your face. You’ll release a sigh of relief as you turn the corner to head for the registers.

You’ll put the milk on the conveyor and pay as quickly as possible, all the while internally praising your phone for the distraction it is, until you reach the car.

Because if you give your toddler a cell phone, chances are you’re going to have to take it back.

And toddlers don’t like to share.

Beth Pugh
Beth Pughhttps://likebabybearsoup.wordpress.com/
Beth Pugh is a wife and mother searching for contentment among the chaos. She writes stories with heart like baby bear soup hoping to inspire others with her words. She has been published by The Good Men Project, Scary Mommy, Sasee, The Sun Magazine, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Lexington Herald-Leader, and On Parenting at The Washington Post. Her debut novel, The Valentine Proposal, releases on February 1st, 2022 and is now up for pre-order. When she isn’t writing, you can find her cheering for the Chicago Cubs or curled up with an e-book on the couch.

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