Monday, July 24, 2017

Fidget spinners may be dangerous! *

High Speed Metal Fidget Spinner Stress Relief Toy

* for  idiots

The most recent toy craze  of which I'm aware is that of the fidget spinners that seem to be everywhere. Every child over the age of five that I've seen in a medical practice in the past two months has toted at least one of the small devices in his or her possession. The spinners are apparently made by multiple manufacturers. I don't know if someone's patent attempt failed or if no one bothered to patent the design in the first place. Because the devices are made and sold by multiple outlets, there doesn't seem to be any consensus as to what should be the minimum age for using the devices independently, and there seems to be a bit of a quality control issue where some of the manufacturing jobs are concerned.

A young girl's mother has charged that the spinning fidgets are unsafe because her ten-year-old daughter put one in her mouth to clean it, it came apart, and one of the device's weighted bearings became lodged in the girl's throat. The girl underwent an endoscopy procedure to have the small part, which was approximately the size of a quarter, removed from her esophagus.  Yes, you read correctly that the child was ten years old. Yes you read correctly that the girl put the device in her mouth to clean it. You also read correctly that the girl's mother is blaming the manufacturer of the toy for the girl having inadvertently ingested the bearing piece from the toy.

When I was two years old, I was being driven back to my grandparents' home from  a birthday party in Utah by my Aunt Claudine.  I had in my hands a small cellophane bag that contained the party favor, which was a set of jacks. My aunt Claudine looked in her rear view mirror just in time to see me putting one of the jacks into my mouth. (That was unusual behavior for me. I typically had to be bribed even to put food in my mouth.) "Alexis, take that out of your mouth RIGHT NOW!" my aunt hollered at me. "It'll slip down your throat, and they'll have to cut you open to get it out. They might not even have time to knock you out first!" It was certainly a scare tactic, and perhaps overkill where a two-year-old was concerned, but it worked. It's the end result that matters where child safety is concerned. But wait, it gets better. "And besides," my aunt continued, "a [insert whatever derogatory name for any person of any different race that you would like to use; I'm not using the word my aunt used] might have touched that before it got put in the package." I was unsure of why it mattered that a person of that particular race had touched the jack, but the idea of anyone having touched the item was enough to make me think it shouldn't have been in my mouth. Your mouth is where you put things that are already clean, not a place you put things in order to get them clean. I would have expected a ten-year-old to know that.

An eleven-year-old boy in Australia threw his fidget spinner in the air. It came down and hit him in the eye, nearly causing a serious injury. His mother blames the toy,or more precisely, the toy manufacturer, for not posting some sort of warning that the toy can be dangerous because if a person tosses the spinner up into the air, it [DUH!] comes down.  Most of us have at least a basic understanding of  the practical applications of gravity and that an object tossed into the air will eventually make its way back down. I would say that perhaps sir Isaac Newton's work is not so esteemed in Australia as it is here in the U.S., but: A) I highly doubt that such is the case, and B) it's actually something of a relief to have someone who says or does something really stupid not to be an American for once. We generally have the stupidest people on the planet here; it's nice for Australia to take that particular monkey off our backs if only for this one time.

People who do not have children are often self-proclaimed experts concerning what children should or should not do. We often are incredibly quick to assert what our own future children will or will not do, and what we will do about it if they do those things that we say they will never do. I've seen many of my former fellow future parents go on to become actual parents and to eat their own words in more ways that I had previously imagined were possible.  For that reason, I'm ever so slightly reluctant to say that my future child will not, at the age of ten or at any other age, put a toy in her mouth (to clean it, no less) and accidentally ingest a part of the toy in the process. My child might also unsheathe a blade of a Swiss army knife, toss it in the air, and injure himself or herself or anyone unlucky enough to be in the vicinity when what went up ultimately came back down. While I would love to believe that I am incapable of producing a child who is stupid enough to have done what either of the two children discussed previously here have done, we know that there are absolutely no guarantees when it comes to reproduction.  (I witnessed this first-hand when my father [who has maxed out every IQ test he has ever been given]  sired my brother [who wouldn't max out an IQ test if someone handed him the answer key right in the middle of the test. If anything, handing my brother the answer key would confuse him and cause him to score even more poorly than the dismally low score he would have gotten on his own].) My child might very well someday do something every bit as stupid as what either of those children did. Kids are inherently stupid. 

What I will say is that I will not be as stupid as are the parents of either child. If I become a parent and if, or more likely when, my child does something incredibly stupid, I vow to be grateful if luck has worked in my favor and the child and anyone near him escaped the act of stupidity with no permanent damage, and to allow my child to own the age-appropriate stupidity (if, for example, it's an eighteen-month-old child playing with a sharp or choke-able object, the stupidity is on me and not on the child) of his or her foolish act. It's only when we're allowed to own our behaviors that we can learn from them. The best way to ensure a state of perpetual and permanent stupidity for one's offspring is to blame someone else for their foolish behaviors.  

If I change my tune and join the side of the enablers if or when I someday become a parent, I invite anyone who knows me to call me on it. I will deserve it.


  1. I think it must be do hard to be a parent these days. Jeez!

    1. It probably is. Common sense ussed to be the guiding factor, but common sense isn't all that common anymore.

      I was at a family funtcion recently where the parents of school-aged kids were discussing the spinners. The devices had been banned at the schools attended by children of a couple of the family members. One relative was saying that there was no reason to ban the things. You handle it the way Pokemon cards, marbles, yoyos, and every other toy craze in history has been handled, which is to confiscate any toy that is taken out during class time and take away any toy on the playground if ownership or safe usage is in dispute. Then another relative said that handling issues in earlier days was easy because the parents accepted the authority of school personnel; now if a teacher confiscates something, he or she is risking litigation.

      I personally think that a school should call the parents' bluffs where litigation is concerned. In most cases the parents don't really want to sue, and the threat of litigation is an idle threat. If the person making the threat is an attorney, think about it more seriously, but even an attorney can be stuck with court costs and the other side's legal fees if he or she files a suit that is later determined to have been frivolous.

      Regarding parents' willingness to stand up to school personnel, that is both bad and good. What happened to you with the (I think) sixth-grade teacher was wrong in so many ways, and even in the relatively few states where corporal punishment is still allowed, it probably would not happen as it happened to you in today's world. School personnel had too much unquestioned authority back in the day. The empowerment of parents has been a very good thing in that regard. The pendulum has swung, in my opinion, anyway, too far in the ipposite direction, though. The handbooks that nearly all schools send out in most cases state very specifically that toys and personal belongings are not to be brought onto campus except in specific instances with specific permission. Why, then, are spinners, or those sticks with balls on a string attached, or marbles, or Pokemon cards, or any other playthings from home an issue? Why do school personnel not enforce their own rules from the outset so that they don't have to create new rules for each new plaything that is invented?

  2. Every kid should have an Aunt Claudine. As a non-parent it is still difficult to believe that there isn't a long, involved licensing program for those who would be parents. How do we survive long enough and often enough to breed?

    1. Aunt Clauine didn't mince wors with her own kids, either. They may need psychiatric care for all I know, but not one of them has had a truly near-death experience. All of my cousins have survived except those who died at birth, but some of the others have survived only by the most compelling forces of luck.

      With stupidity being such a major component of the human condition, it is a bit surprising that the race has survived. Maybe natural selection has played a part, and maybe we would be even more appalled if we knew just how dense those who didn't make the cut because of stupidity were. Their progeny, had there been any, might have made the kid who cleaned the spinner by sucking on it appear as a genius.