A few nights ago, after putting Grace and Milly to bed, I was sitting at the table reading the paper (Yes, I read the paper) while Eadaoin studied. I noticed that she was playing with a fidget while finishing up. In case you aren’t familiar with the term ‘fidget’ or ‘fidget toy’, a ‘fidget’ is essentially something that one plays with or uses to occupy one’s hands while engaging in something else. Adults often doodle, use stress balls, or chew pen caps so that the part of their brains that requires occupying is satisfied. Once that is achieved, the capacity to concentrate increases. Children on the autism spectrum or who have ADHD, sensory processing disorders, learning disorders, and the like often use fidgets to aid in their concentration and stress management. Both Grace and Milly rely on fidgets as coping skills. I keep a “fidget box” full of surprise fidgets as part of a reward system, and both Grace and Milly think it’s the coolest thing ever. Of course, I have to hunt high and low for new fidgets, but it’s fun.
So, there I was noticing that Eadaoin was playing with one of Grace’s fidgets, and then I heard a noise. The fidget…farted. “Eadaoin, what was that?” She laughed uproariously. “Mom, it’s the Flarp! It’s noise putty. It makes noises. See?” And then she did it again. She began to repeatedly shove her fingers into the container making this putty produce very realistic sounds; something on par with sounds I only hear emanating from the bathroom when my husband grabs his iPad and announces that his coffee has kicked in. We girls then make it a habit to avoid the bathroom and hallway for at least ten minutes after he’s exited said bathroom due to what I feel might be hazardous waste contamination resulting in a need for the Silkwood Shower. “Do you want to try?” Initially, I was repulsed. Hell, no! The Flarp was so shiny and smelled strangely. Then again, I was curious.
What happened? Once I got started, I couldn’t stop. I made the Flarp produce the grossest, nastiest noises. My husband was cheering me on from the bedroom. “Aaaaw yeah! That was awesome!” Eadaoin nearly fell from her chair laughing so hard. I giggled and groaned. Even the ever-serious Doireann sneaked in to watch us. She looked shocked. “Oh my gosh…Mom! That is so gross!” Yes. Yes, it was. But, you know what? Even she couldn’t resist the tractor beam-like attraction of the Flarp. She, too, had to find out what unnerving, disgusting noise she could make Flarp produce. Of course, Eadaoin and Doireann don’t often play nicely, and in a matter of moments they were threatening each other with the Flarp. “I’ll put it in your hair!”….”I will cut you!”….”I wonder if it sticks to skin?”….”Back off of me! Back off of me now!” I had to step in and tell them to knock it off in my own way:
“Lower your weapons, ladies! Put down the Flarp! Holster your noise putty there, Tex! I see a tumbleweed blowin’ in from the West! I’m gonna turn the hose on you two if you don’t knock that off!”
My husband seemed to think our repartee was amusing, but he doesn’t know it’s normal for us. He’s been gone too much, and when he’s here, he’s often not really listening. There are better ways to dismantle conflict than threatening children with intimidation.
Flarp is a bit magical. It has distracted Grace for a week now in her moments of stress and even distracted me for a a few minutes from thinking about how stressed I am about my current circumstances. It’s got a weird name, a weird smell, a weird texture, and makes very weird noises. I don’t know why “DO NOT EAT” is written directly on the container because, I can assure you, ingesting this stuff is not a temptation unless you enjoy eating your own snot.
I have a weird fantasy that I might attend a dinner party wherein many nouveau riche social climbers would attend. I could sneak in and deposit numerous containers of Flarp throughout the venue. Some curious soul would open up a container, and the Flarp would let loose a horrifyingly Flarpish noise. The music would stop. The guests would look around in disgust, and the innocent victim would cry out, “It wasn’t me, I promise! I was the Flarp!” Hilarity would ensue.
I’ll admit it. I have a certain person in mind to star in this scenario. A few years ago I was invited out to lunch by a woman I hadn’t seen in a few years. She wanted to have lunch at her country club which seemed okay. I grew up in a deeply Southern “country club” neighborhood, and I ended up working at the country club in high school. Working at a country club is very revealing. There were only white people as far as the eye could see if you catch my meaning. I hightailed it out of the neighborhood and state two days after I graduated and never looked back. So, this foray into the country club culture was more annoying than anything else. What I figured out is that I was on an audition of sorts. She was sizing me up for “friendship” and future socializing “appointments”. I found this to be completely unrelational and phony. I decided to sabotage myself by simply being myself. After having grown up amongst this type of personality, I know the rules. One can be many things, but never be yourself. Consequently, she never called me again. Thankfully…So, imagining this woman “flarping” in public in view of all her country club friends gives me a strange Schadenfreude-like glee that makes me giggle. For the record, I was never a Queen Bee or Mean Girl in high school. I have no idea why my imagination has concocted this ridiculous scenario or why I’m blogging about it. For some reason though, it’s become a visual earworm, and I snicker whenever I imagine it.
Life is just strange, and people are stranger. This is why Flarp is necessary. It’s silly, and silliness is important because life can be all too serious.