Moms, fads and counterfads

Jun 29, 2017 By Clair McFarland

"Mom, can I have a fidget spinner?"

It was the question of the spring season - but the answer was no.

I didn't say "no" because I had something against the fidget spinner - or hand spinner, or whatever you want to call the spinning toy.

I said "no," because I wasn't sure what a fidget spinner was supposed to do, and I'm suspicious of most fads.

Most, but not all.

Some fads are good, when they restore simplicity to our lives.

For example, the messy bun - the popular hairstyle - is an improvement upon past hairstyles, because it takes less time to accomplish.

Is it prettier? We don't know! But we have books to read and coffee to drink, so it's OK that ringlets and featherings and bouffants aren't as trendy as the atomic-explosion-shaped hair we like right now.

Another example: the minimalist shoe. Who knew? It's a shoe that protects your foot without mashing it into a new shape via elevated heels and pointed toe boxes. Genius!

The messy bun and the minimalist shoe help us flee from hairspray and high heels. They let us look more like ourselves. So, I proclaim that they are not fads at all, but - ahem - counter-fads.

But what was a fidget spinner anyway?

I had no idea. But I knew all about the other successful fads of our day, so I just assumed that a fidget spinner was a device used to charge your tablet, produce sriracha, and teach you to twerk all at the same time.

I also dislike demands for material goods, as in "Mom! WHEN can I have a fidget spinner?"

"You can't! Back in my day, 'twerking' meant chopping wood and the sriracha was mac and cheese!"

Just kidding. I did not say that.

What I actually said was "well, save up your money, sugar."

"What's money-sugar?"


"I mean save up your stickers, OK?"

See, in our home we have a simple rewards system in place, by which we delude our children into thinking that life gives out monetary rewards when you clean up after yourself and encourage others.

Won't they be in for a surprise.

Anyway, the children get a star written under their names, on a dry-erase board, whenever they do things that decent human beings do. Once a child gets 10 stars under his name, we erase the stars and place a sticker on his sticker-board.

Each sticker is worth a dollar.

By this system, you would have to be a decent human being about 110 times in order to earn a hand spinner toy, and that's not including the sriracha fees.

Sounds exhausting, I know.

But they did it! The two older boys earned the money, and off they went with The Husband to the store, to purchase the latest fad and become the envy of the monkey bars.

I waited at home, wondering what approached.

Two little boys soon walked toward my front door, ripping into packages, throwing cardboard all over the lawn, and tearing their new toys from the carnage while shouting "it's MINE! It's mine! It's finally mine!"

I peered through this fog of indecent human behavior - and I beheld a wonder. The toys began to spin.

Each toy consisted of a low-friction bearing around which an outer disk spun - and spun and spun - after a mere flick of the hand. They were like handheld tops, but smoother, and lighter, and more hypnotic.

Let's let Wikipedia try to explain it: "A fidget spinner is a toy that consists of a bearing in the center of a multi-lobed flat structure made from metal or plastic."

So kids hold bearings in their hands to send some weighted lobes spinning. Simple enough, right?

Wrong! They weren't just spinning. They were whirring invisibly. They were conserving their momentum in perfect symmetry. They were dancing the dance that all things dance: a circle.

Even the mightiest things in the universe curve - revolve - headlong through space and time in perfect obedience. And, if you have been a decent human being 110 times, you can hold this phenomenon of space-time and gravity in your hand instead of just being passively subject to it.

In a world of tablets and twerking and sriracha, the most popular toy around is nothing more than a glorious celebration of the circle. It's a counter-fad.

So, the answer is yes. You may have a fidget spinner.

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