It wasn’t until last week when the fidget spinner fad arrived on our doorstep that I realized my children were deprived. Up until last Tuesday I thought, mistakenly, that my children were living pretty well.
The fidget spinner changed all that.
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“Mah-meeee,” my son said from the back of the car. “I’m the only one in third grade who doesn’t have a fidget spinner.”
“What,” I responded, “is a fidget shitter?”
For the two of you who don’t know, a fidget shitter is a fidget spinner. A fidget spinner is a three-pronged, weighted, plastic spinning toy that was designed to help ADHD kids focus better in school. The theory being, kids who have a hard time sitting still can at least fidget with something rather than fidget with everything.
If you’ve spent any time with children you know there is no such thing as a fidget free kid. If you’ve met a kid who doesn’t fidget you’ve met a unicorn, or a corpse. Kids move all the time, some more than others. Schools can’t stand when kids fidget even though every kid fidgets. So somebody invented a toy to focus fidgets. Instead of rocking back in their chairs, chewing on their zippers, tapping their pencils, and fidgeting with their body parts, kids can now fidget with a gadget.
And now all the kids want in.
The fidget spinner fad took over my kid’s school last week like a boy band taking over a sorority meeting. It seemed that within the blink of an eye, all anyone could talk about was fidgeting. And apparently I’d deprived my son of the opportunity to fidget at a cost having assumed his constant fidgeting for free would suffice.
I promised my son I’d order him one, dropped him off at school, and immediately forgot about my promise. When I picked him up later that day from school, he asked no less than 2000 times when his fidget spinner would arrive. “I was the only one who didn’t have one today,” he said holding back tears. “It was awful.”
I lied and told him that I’d ordered it already. Don’t judge. Honesty is highly overrated, especially in child rearing.
When we arrived home I excused myself to the only place my children don’t follow me, the laundry room, and ordered him a fidget spinner from my phone. I was surprised to find at least 10 million choices of fidget spinners. I didn’t know which one to buy so I bought the most expensive one. I figured there had to be a reason why one fidget spinner cost more than another. I had already deprived my child of his right to fidget, I didn’t want to cheap out on the solution.
The next day he woke up at 5:00 am, asking if his fidget spinner had arrived. I suggested he fidget himself back to bed.
When I picked him up from school the next day, his fidget thing hadn’t yet arrived. He cried in the car and asked me what is was like to, “live back in the dark ages, before they had overnight shipping.”
I ignored this and his weeping over his yet to arrive gadget. Though I couldn’t help but notice from my view of him in my rearview mirror, that he seemed to have no problem fidgeting without his spinner. In no less than two minutes, the child had attempted to eat his own hand, had wiped his nose 2000 times, had eaten something out of his ear, and had touched the area of his clothing that housed his penis at least 4000 times. I wondered why all the fuss over the gadget. He seemed to have excelled at fidgeting, with or without his trendy spinner.
The next morning, my son asked if I could “call Amazon” as if Amazon were a person waiting to help me with my fidgeting customer service needs. Don’t think I hadn’t considered it. All this weeping and anxiety over a tool invented to reduce weeping and anxiety was making me twitchy. I had a hard time keeping my mom cool. And if there’s one hallmark of my few successes as a parent, it’s that I pride myself on rarely losing my mom cool. But when I do, I like to scare my children by screaming in voice that is best reserved for a horror movie, while speaking in sentences that only consist of mutli-hyphenate curse words that would make a sailor blush and race to confession. I was not going to let this fidget shit bring me down to my own level. It was not going to happen. I took a deep breath, assured my precious baby I’d track down his gadget, and put on a happy face. Even I was impressed with me.
I dropped the kids off at school, making sure to give the big one five dollars so he could buy something on his field trip to Olivera Street, downtown. The Spanish class field trip had the kids going down to a predominantly Hispanic area of Los Angeles where the kids could practice their Spanish by terrorizing the hard working vendors of one of Los Angeles’ oldest neighborhoods with their expert Spanish, which best as I can tell has them speaking Spanish with grammar just better than that of a caveman. They could practice math and Spanish with five dollars in hand.
At 10:00 am, I heard a box slam against our front door. Hoping it was my shoes from Tamara Mellon, I ran outside to find a tiny manila envelope that had found it’s home in our thorny rose bushes (our version of a security fence because shit goes down in Los Angeles.) I opened the package to find a tiny box that fit in the palm of my hand. I peeked inside to realize this tiny little green thing was third grade Mecca. It was the much anticipated fidget spinner. I put it in the car when I picked up the kids, knowing my son would be relieved, thrilled, and grateful that his precious gadget had shown up.
Nope. That didn’t happen.
I picked up the kids and apparently the boy child had learned how to say fidget spinner in Spanish because that’s what he, and all his classmates, had purchased on their Spanish fact finding mission downtown. Apparently, flash mob style, all the kids of third grade had descended upon one vendor and negotiated the price of all the fidget spinners down. I wasn’t sure if I should be impressed or horrified.
When he saw the fresh from Amazon fidget spinner, my son immediately put it together, and then started to cry. “This one’s no good,” he said now crying. “It’s too big.”
For the love of…I didn’t know there were sizes. Amazon did not tell me fidget spinners came in sizes.
I assured my fidgeter that I’d send the mis-sized toy back and get him a new one. “But,” I suggested, “Do you really need it? You have the one you got today on the field trip.”
He looked at me as though I’d spoken blasphemy. “Mom you just don’t understand,” he wailed. “I’m a collector.”
By the time we returned home from school, he’d fidgeted himself into a full on tailspin. That’s because he’d misplaced not one, but both of his fidget spinners. Yes, even the one he deemed no good.
Twenty minutes later, I dug both out of the tiny, but not tiny enough space between his seat and the floor where he has managed to lodge his fidget spinners during the ride home. I also found enough snack foods to fill a Costco, nearly lost my wedding ring, got a neck spasm, and destroyed what was a brand new manicure, while rescuing his spinners.
Under his breath I think he said thank you, though it does sound almost identical to “fuck you.” I chose to believe he said the former. I said the latter. Don’t judge. There’s no way he heard me. My kids only listen to me when I say things I don’t want them to hear. Oh , wait.
While I was making dinner he lost his fidget spinners at least two more times. I lost my marbles zero times. That’s because I had started to drink. All this reduction of anxiety and fidgeting had caused tremendous anxiety in me. Maybe I needed a fidget spinner myself.
Before going to bed, I found my son playing with the no good fidget spinner. Blushing, he said he’d actually put it together incorrectly and that it was “not no good” after all. I ignored the grammatical errors in his admission of guilt. Instead, I just enjoyed him being wrong.
I was awoken at 4:45 the next morning to the sound of a loud thud coming from the direction of my son’s room. I came bounding in sure he’d fallen out of bed or someone was trying to take him (at this point I’d consider letting someone have him). Instead, I found the kid sitting on the floor playing with his fidget spinner. The thud, which happened now every two to three seconds, was him spinning the thing into an airborne state and then dropping it on his hardwood floors.
I took the fidget spinners hostage for the rest of the early morning hours and told the child to go back to bed. He cried himself back to sleep claiming I was the worst mom in the world for taking his toys away. But when I reminded him he was lucky to be alive at this point, he retracted his statements and I said I wasn’t that bad.
By the end of the next school day, he’d lost both spinners claiming there was a thief who had stolen “19 boys’’” fidget spinners.
He asked if he could get another one at 7-11 since a friend had purchased one there. He reminded me that he was now, again, the only deprived child in third grade who couldn’t fidget at a cost. When I asked him about the other kids whose spinners had been “stolen” he looked at me like I was crazy and said, “who said they were stolen?”
I did let him get one more but made him pay for it with his own money, all of which at some point came from me so it’s a bit of a moot point. It’s not like hard labor was endured to get that fidget spinner money. He actually earned it by losing a few teeth and stealing coins from his dad’s bureau, but the intention of a life lesson was there.
He purchased a new one from 7-11 and assured me this would be a new era in our family’s fidgeting. He promised no meltdowns, no tantrums, no early morning wakings because he was jonesing to fidget.
The next day he had lost his newly purchased spinner. Remembering his promise, he did not cry or pitch a fit. But as I watched him sitting in the back of the car, I cried and pitched a fit. See all that time he was spinning that gadget he wasn’t doing what he used to do, fidget with everything else.
After dropping him off at school, I raced to the nearest 7-11 to buy him another. Sure he’d be driving me crazy with the world’s most annoying gadget, but at least he wouldn’t be eating his zipper or fidgeting with his penis. It may not be much, but it’s a small parenting win. And if there’s one thing I like to hang my hat on, it’s small parenting wins.
Now, let’s hope my daughter doesn’t ask for one herself. I’d hate to lose my mom cool, but these fidget spinners are breaking me.
Written on May 9th, morning, Los Angeles, California while listening to Foxygen and Vampire Weekend.
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