Nighttime adventures with an old-fashioned iPod

Sleep has been in short supply in our house this week.  A combination of colds, a teething six month old, and prolonged bedtime dramas from our daughter Ayelet, who is going through a “terrible two” stage, has left everyone exhausted.

While bedtime takes forever with Ayelet, she’s at least been sleeping through the night fairly consistently.  Months ago, we were having problems where she would want to come into our bed in the middle of the night, but I mostly solved with the “morning light” in her room.  It’s a night light on a timer that turns on at 5:00 am, and the rule is that she can’t come into our bed unless the morning light is on.  It’s not so much that this stopped her from trying, but it changed my refusals from an arbitrary decision to an explanation that the morning light wasn’t on.  Pretty soon she stopped for the most part.

Last night was a brutally timed exception.  I had already spent 45 minutes around 1 am trying to get my son to go to sleep, and then at 2:30 Ayelet came running into our room wanting to climb into our bed.  Rather than accepting the morning light explanation like usual, she dug in her heels and refused to get back in.

“What if we put some music on the iPod?” I offered.  As a result of odd choices on my part for bedtime songs to sing to her, my daughter is a big fan of “Gina Becker”, which is more properly pronounced “Regina Spektor”.  Normally, she is very excited about listening to either “Fidelity” or “On the Radio”, and this calms her down enough to go back to sleep.  Tonight, however, she was unwilling.

At this point my wife, knowing I had to be up early, took pity on me and came in to try instead.  I went back to bed and listened to her coax my daughter into her own bed.  Sometimes a fresh face makes all the difference. 

A few minutes later, however, my wife was back in my room holding Ayelet’s iPod and looking for my help.  Ayelet had decided that she would in fact like to listen Gina Becker after all, but Aviva has never managed to figure out how to use the iPod.  The one in Ayelet’s room used to be Aviva’s, but I always set it up for her.  I had gotten it when Aviva was first pregnant and unable to sleep so she could listen to podcasts.  It was an older generation model that I bought refurbished off the Apple website (which I highly recommend if you are looking for a good deal).

While Aviva has shown some impressive tech savvy at times and can easily play music for Ayelet on her iPhone, the iPod’s control dial is not intuitive to her.  It has the touch-sensitive scroll dial with pressure sensitive buttons at the compass points to control playback, but Aviva doesn’t listen to a lot of music and is unfamiliar with the symbols, particularly in the middle of the night.  To her credit, she found her way to the Regina Spektor playlist but couldn’t get the music playing.  I showed her how to press the center button, and pretty soon Ayelet was listening to music and back to sleep.

Thinking about this has made me realize that Apple really did the right thing when they redesigned the new iPod Nano’s with a touch interface.  I recently got to play with one when I was helping set one up for Aviva’s cousin, and it is extremely elegant.  It is almost exactly like using the music player on the iPhone, with the exception that there is no home button.  Instead, they have introduced a new concept of swiping the screen from left to right to go back to the previous page, kind of like turning the page back in a book.

While the old iPod interface is clearly usable by the masses, there is still something unobvious about it.  I can’t imagine trying to explain to Ayelet how to use it.  The new Nano, on the other hand, is so simple that I think even Ayelet could figure out how to use it.  She can’t read, but she knows enough letters that I could probably explain to her that the playlist that starts with an “R” is the Regina Spektor music.

Wait, what am I saying?  If she could manipulate the iPod herself, there would be no negotiating value to offering to play music for her when trying to get her back to bed.  Definitely sticking with the classic iPod.

 

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