Thursday, May 25, 2017

How to Say No When Your Child Asks For a Fidget Spinner

…Just muster all your conviction, and say ‘NO’. That’s it.

I’m assuming you are reading this because you know for a fact that your child who’s asking for a fidget spinner does NOT have a medical or developmental issue that would warrant a need to be addressed by said gadget. In other words, your child is developmentally normal. And so is mine, which made it effortless for me to say ‘no’.


Three days ago, I heard the words that I’ve been dreading for the past two months. I honestly thought I was in the clear, but just when I was getting cocky, he blurted, “Mama, can I please have a fidget spinner?” Saying no was not a problem. I didn’t even pause for a second before making it clear to my son that I will not be granting his request. What took longer was explaining to him why I’m saying no.

You absolutely don’t need it. You don’t even fidget, for crying out loud!
I mean, okay, maybe you sometimes tap your fingers, or shake your legs, or move in your chair, touch your hair, scratch your ear or eyes. I don’t care. The point is, your degree of fidgeting is normal and I’ve spoken to every teacher you’ve had in the past 7 years and they can all attest to your ability to stay focused. You have no problem with concentration and you’re actually a remarkably good student with no attention-span or behavior issues. Even if you did have anxiety, stress or ADHD (who, according to the marketers of this fidget spinner, are the ones who can benefit most from this gadget), I believe there are better ways of helping you with your issues than getting you this spinner.

It’s just a fad. And a useless one in my view.
According to the website of the makers of this device, the fidget spinner is a “new office gadget and children's toy to help improve focus and concentration while reducing ADHD and bad habits…(They) believe that the symptoms of ADHD and stress can be reduced with (their) tools to release the nervous energy rather than by taking prescription drugs.

The ‘bad habits’ they refer to are things people do when they’re nervous, stressed out or bored, such as nail biting, gum chewing, or foot-tapping and this fidget toy is supposed to take the place of those bad habits, hence increasing concentration and productivity.

Really? Seriously?? This toy is so new and there is no real scientific data that can back up those claims. Have they really measured before and after cases? Any longitudinal studies to date? How many subjects? What variables were isolated? Until I find reliable scientific data regarding their claims, I’m taking them all to be marketing b.s.

If you really want to stop biting your nails or shaking your leg, just stop. Or maybe do what my generation did and spin your pen instead. No toys needed.

Which brings me to this point…

Let’s be honest…It’s a toy!
And you only want it because everyone else seems to have one even though they don’t know why. What’s worse is that some kids think they need it, end up bringing it to school and then getting distracted by it, therefore getting the opposite effect of what it’s marketed for.

It’s a stupid, unnecessary toy, as far as I’m concerned. It spins. Yeah, get a top, I think we already have one. 

You want something that goes around your fingers to keep you occupied?...Yeah, you can play with rubber bands too and create cool shapes! 

You’re stressed?...We have a stress ball for you to squeeze. Or maybe you can just close your eyes and take slow, deep breaths.

This spinner thing is really not that cool and I’m not buying it, literally and figuratively.

*** 
I have nothing against buying toys for my son, as long as we can afford it, he deserves or needs it, and bonus points if I’m a fan of it. But this fidget spinner fad bugs the heck out of me. I don’t want my son to fall into the trap of wanting something just because others have it. I don’t want him to think it’s okay to spend money on something just because it’s cheap or he can afford it. I want him to pause and think about its purpose, why he truly wants something, what he’ll get out of it, and if the gadget or toy truly makes sense.

This one does not. And I don’t like how it hides behind the fa├žade of being developmentally or cognitively beneficial. If children suffer from anxiety, stress, or ADHD, there are a ton of experts who can more effectively help out and can equip these children with practices backed by true science and research. There is no single magic tool, spinning or not, that can address those issues, at least not yet. I don’t care if it’s 99 cents or fifteen dollars. The answer is NO.



Friday, May 19, 2017

Why You Need to Stop Giving a F***

A good friend of mine shared with me this life-changing TED Talk on YouTube. If you haven't seen it yet, I highly suggest you click on the video below. It may just become the most well-spent 15 minutes of your life. 

It's about not giving a—(pardon the word)—f*ck. Most of the time, I find myself saying that in my head: I don't give a f*ck. IDGAF! It's so liberating just to think it. And then the next minute, I start giving a f*ck again. Perhaps it's out of peer pressure, guilt and mainly an overactive superego. But as I get older, I realize how necessary it is to not give a f*uck in preserving my sanity, peace of mind and sense of happiness. 

The speaker / author Sarah Knight gave three main points: 

1. She defines a f*ck as time, energy and money. When we don't GAF about something, that means we don't care about it and therefore won't give it our time, energy and money. 

2. One shouldn't feel sorry about not giving a f*ck. You can be polite about it and not feel awful about your honesty. This of course presumes that you have clearly differentiated between things you want to GAF about and things you don't GAF about. 

3. Each of us needs a F*ck Budget to ensure that we have enough time, energy and money for those things we truly care about. It's obviously unwise to waste your 'fuck bucks' or 'actual bucks' on things you don't care about. 


The Magic of Not Giving a F***


One realization came to mind though. The reason why this video resonates with so many of us is because most of us feel overwhelmed. The sad reality is that we live in a period where there are pressures and demands that consume us, chewing every bit of us little by little, mostly inconspicuously, until we find ourselves depleted, or worse, powerless. 

This talk would not have been relevant in a time where social life was much simpler, less demanding. In this period we live in, there are so many experts, each of us carries different social roles and identities often times presenting with conflicting demands, and we are constantly bombarded with ever-changing information about what the ideal life looks like or which version of ourselves is deemed 'best'. There is so much pressure experienced during such a finite life with finite resources that it truly makes sense to re-evaluate what are truly valuable and worth investing in.

As a final note, remember that the reason for not giving a f*** about so many things is so that you end up with more joy in your life, more authenticity, more freedom. The more f***s you give, the more depleted you will be. 

What things do you want to stop giving a f*** about right now?














Friday, May 5, 2017

All He Did Was Stare



We were never introduced but we certainly knew each other's names. Or at least I knew his. We were young university instructors at the time, though we belonged to different departments. I would not have noticed him at all had it not been for his strange behavior. It was a habit that simultaneously annoyed and intrigued me.

He stared.

In the beginning, I thought it was a fluke. I thought maybe he thought I was someone else. But as the months went on, I noticed how consistent the behavior was. I taught Sociology so you must understand how trained I was to observe things, gather my data without immediately jumping to conclusions. 

So that's what I did. I observed. I let it go on. Our faculty offices were in the same building, on the same floor. Conveniently, even our classes were in the same wing and again, on the same floor. As such, we would often pass each other by on the way to and from the two buildings. And every time this happened, I would see him staring at me from afar and by the time we were side by side, he would turn his head my way and just look at me. It was one of those things that you just feel and see from your peripheral vision. I didn't have the guts to actually look back at him and just suffered through my self-consciousness for a while.

Since I'm not one who readily assumes anything, not even when it's obvious, I had to test the reliability of this data. And the truth was, I was sure it was me he was staring at because it would happen even when there was no one else for him to turn his head to and stare at other than me. There were also times when I had to walk with a couple of my colleagues and they all confirmed that this man was, without a doubt, staring at my face. He also did the same every time he walked past my classroom and I would be in the middle of my lecture. It was a bit distracting at first but I quickly learned to adapt.

I was flattered, but more importantly, I was deeply intrigued. The mystery was killing me. Why was he doing it? If he was attracted to me, why doesn't he introduce himself? Why just stare instead of smile and say hello? Or maybe he found me repulsive? Yes, I thought that too. 

Finally, I decided to end my passive role in all this. I had allowed it for so long that I felt all that odd, conspicuous staring was getting old and I was feeling exasperated. I was certain that doing something about it would accelerate where it needed to go. Either it would escalate and he would pursue something more if indeed he was attracted to me, or he would get tired of it and stop. When I made the resolve to be pro-active, I wasn't sure which outcome I preferred. All I knew was that something needed to change. 

One day, I decided that was it. I saw him walking towards me...10 feet...5 feet...2 feet away...and then we were side by side. Just as his head was still turned towards me, I abruptly turned my head towards him and I obviously caught him off guard. I finally confirmed for myself that I was the object of his attention. Strangely though, as my gaze met his, I felt momentarily stunned. There was no smile, not even a hint of embarrassment from him for being caught staring at me. There was nothing. His face remained expressionless, yet I felt bulldozed by the intensity that I was the one who felt embarrassed and had to quickly turn away. It was as if I owed it to him to allow myself to be pierced like that. I didn't take pleasure in it. Apart from realizing he was really not that cute, I also felt violated and wondered if he was a misogynistic freak. 

From that point on, I vowed to give him a dose of his own medicine, albeit a much smaller dose, and throw in a slight smile and hello for good measure, at least whenever I felt like it. I was especially brave at doing those during faculty assemblies since I knew they were justified and had minimal risk of being misconstrued. The strange thing is that I still didn't get anything back. I don't recall him ever smiling at me, let alone truly engage me in a conversation. Eventually I found out he had a girlfriend so that pretty much extinguished all the thrill for me. I never reached a solid conclusion to my shallow adventure, never truly found out his motive for staring. But the reasons don't matter any more because I had lost interest in the mystery. Him staring back at me with a cold, brazenly arrogant look tasted too bitter for me to continue craving it. 

It was an exciting and fun few months for 24-year old me, when being mysterious was a prerequisite for attraction. But that's the thing about mysteries. They're evanescent and have a fragile existence. They entice and hook me, inviting me to dig and uncover. Unfortunately, sometimes there's nothing much to see, nothing more challenging to keep my attention. With a very limited lifespan, mysteries are not very reliable foundations to relationships. I'm not sure how long this man kept his 'routine'. The point is, I just stopped caring and knew there were other deeper mysteries ahead of me worth exploring. I was 24 and hadn't found it yet, but I was certain it was still out there, packaged in a much warmer, friendlier set of eyes.