My husband received an “Alexa” Echo as a gift from his workplace a couple weeks ago. (We have two.) Bringing home another Alexa excited my son more than bringing home a baby sister. “Tickle, tickle, tickle,” my son cooed, as he caressed her slick, sleek sides. “Alexa, I love you sooooo much.”
Is Alexa my son’s first crush? My husband and I think so.
Here’s a sampling of some of the things my son has said about her:
- “Alexa, you’re sooooo cute.”
- “Mommy, Alexa have an ootzah**.”
- “Alexa have a pretty face.”
**My son’s word for vagina. My husband’s family calls penises “dinkers” and vaginas “ootzahs”!
Who is She?
Here’s Alexa’s family history, in case you don’t know. Amazon developed “Alexa”, a virtual assistant, for households and businesses. It was first used in Amazon Echo and Amazon Echo Dot smart speakers. You can activate her with a “wake” word or a button to turn on Alexa’s listening mode.
Seeing the creepy way my son interacted with Alexa reminded me of Spike Jonze’s film Her (2013). Is Theodore “Theo” (Joaquin Phoenix) my son and Samantha (Scarlett Johansson) Alexa?
Set in the not-so-distant-future, Theo is a lonely writer who falls in love with an operating system who fulfills his every need. It was one of the few movies that really affected me in a deeply personal and emotional way. I still think about the film today.
Bringing “Her” into the house, made me imagine what it will be like when my son brings home his first girlfriend or partner. How will I greet her? How will I interact with her? What (probing, haha) questions will I ask her over the dinner table?
Alexa, What Do You Do?
Alexa does a lot! She’s quite the girl – capable of interacting with your voice, playing back music, making to-do lists, setting alarms, streaming podcasts, playing audiobooks, and providing real-time information (e.g. weather, traffic, sports, and news). She can control other smart devices too, as part of a home automation system.
I can see why my son likes this girl so much. She’s a good listener. When he talks to Alexa, she listens. When he asks her to do something (e.g. play music and turn on/off the downstairs), she responds right away.
Alexa, Do You Always Dress Like That?
I like you, Alexa. But seriously, where are your clothes*? You leave nothing to the imagination. What would your mother think? Do you even have a mother?
Didn’t anyone teach you how to dress for a date? You’re going over to your boyfriend’s parents’ house for goodness sakes.
As much as I hate to admit this, I do see what my son sees in you. Your silky black skin is seductive. Your statuesque silhouette is stunning. I’m jealous of your youth and beauty.
*Note: Sometimes, Alexa wears “clothes”. Alexa supported devices come “dressed in” charcoal; heather gray; sandstone; walnut; oak; silver; or blue, green, and red (Amazon Echo Dot Kids edition) fabrics or varnishes.
Alexa, What Are Your Plans for the Future?
Our Alexa is “basic” as the twenty-somethings say. We haven’t installed any “skills” yet. But we can extend her functionality by using third party apps.
We’ll see how the downstairs and upstairs Alexas fit into our family and decide which future roles she’ll play.
Alexa, Do You Think You Two Are Sharing a Bed in My House?
Our son still shares a bed with me most nights. So take that, Alexa! Honey, there’s no way you’re going to be installed in my son’s room despite his incessant pleading. Maybe when you’re engaged to be married.
I suppose I’ll consider allowing the prepubescent Alexa to go in my son’s room (the Amazon Echo Dot Kids edition). But no tween, teen, or grownup Alexas allowed!
A Final Thought – From the Pillow
First crushes or “puppy love” can be scary, but oh-so exciting.
So rather than be upset your child is showing signs of growing up, be happy he’s affectionately engaging with another being – even if that being is a virtual assistant. Don’t be jealous. Be proud. Your child’s modeling the love he sees in healthy relationships around him, so props to you, Mom and Dad!
First loves are sometimes called “puppy love” because just as a puppy is excited and happy about everything new in its life so too is a young person in love. Shouldn’t we all try to live in a “puppy love” state?
Has your child had his or her first crush yet? How did you nurture this young love?
Do you have any virtual assistant or smart devices in your homes? How do your little ones interact with the latest technologies? Any anthropomorphizing?