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Go to hell, Foam Snail

May 14, 2010

Meet Foam Snail. He’s, you guessed it, a foam snail. He came stuffed into one of those little melt-away pills you put in warm water. The pill thingy melts and the animal grows from it, leaving your child in possession of a tiny, useless sponge that’s vaguely shaped like one animal or another. It’s one of those toys that make you so aware of what strange little creatures kids are. This is interesting? Really? I suppose the kids are sustained by memories of the thrill of watching it slowly emerge, but really. Come on. My kids are 6 and 4, and by now I assumed they’d be into video games and meth. Foam Snail makes me worry that they may be lagging behind their peers. But that’s not why I hate Foam Snail. No, Foam Snail has, for me, come to symbolize one of the major problems with children’s toys.

You see, when your kids are babies, all their toys are huge. Giant plastic boats and trucks, massive blocks, chunky shape sorters. It all sort of leaves you feeling like this. The idea, of course, is not to choke anyone’s baby, which is a good goal. But as your kids get bigger, the toys get smaller. It’s an interesting phenomenon. But as it happens, and you watch shit like this, this, and this (Jesusgod, are you fucking kidding me?) enter your home, you begin to realize that what you thought was the worst thing about toys–the sheer number of them that will, no matter what you do, overwhelm you–isn’t nearly the worst thing about them. Small toys are the real problem.

Because here’s the thing about kids: they can’t be track of anything. Those giant toys for babies? My son can hold one of those in his hand and not know where the hell it is. So you can imagine how often these maddeningly tiny toys go missing. And when they do, it’s on you to find them. Because you’re the adult. More or less. Tiny toys are like little bombs just waiting to go off. Again, and again, and again.

Which brings us back to Foam Snail. For reasons that will remain a mystery, my son became instantly enchanted with Foam Snail. Five minutes after Foam Snail had emerged from his little thing, he was lost. Tears. Screaming. Meltdown. I find it. It’s in the middle of the hall floor. “Keep track of this,” I tell him. He dries his tears and assures me he will. How long do you think it took him to lose foam snail again? Under two minutes. I find him again (stuck to back of his shirt; no lie). This time, he lasted five minutes.

Tonight, while my son is asleep, I will murder Foam Snail.

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