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Fidget to stay focused

For a stay-at-home mum who spends her days solving crosswords, exercising, socialising and ending her day with a good book, how stressed does he think I am?

Gulf News

We spent the last weekend wriggling, jiggling and joggling. Or to be precise, fidgeting. With the rotator, the gyrator, THE SPINNER.

No, I am not talking about the popular Indian sport cricket here, though most Indians do fancy themselves as a mean cricketer in some position at some point in life — age, experience and sex no bar. They are either a Sachin Tendulkar, a Mahendra Singh Dhoni, a Shane Warne or a Jonty Rhodes. Or recently, a Virat Kohli. No offence to unnamed cricket legends. Any omission on my part is purely unintentional.

Oh but I’m digressing. Back to THE SPINNER. The new shiny toy which has taken over the world by storm.

My ten-year old son came back from school one day, raving about the FIDGET SPINNER, which is apparently THE TOY to own. As all ignorant parents, who portray themselves as tres cool, I said: “Oh yes, like a top you mean? We had those when we were growing up.” This, though I had nary a clue. Rolling his eyes, he proceeded to explain how it was NOT like a top. No sharp point, no bodily injuries. He made our childhood toy sound like a dangerous weapon.

As is the norm nowadays, you hear a new thing, you turn to Google. That was exactly my next action. My initial research stumped me. I was amazed by the sheer volume, variety and prices available on a popular online shopping website.

It was like a whole new world out there!

There were plastic ones in different colours and multi-colour combinations. Cool metallic ones that were shinier and sturdier but tad noisy. And prices, well they ranged from single digits to three digits. Now this was getting confusing. I thought we could just order it online. The single digit one, naturally, but the website charged three times the price of the object for mere delivery. Well, if this was one of the popular websites, I dreaded to look at the unpopular ones.

I and hubby weren’t too sure it was something we wanted to get our child. His several toys still unpacked and boxed loomed in front of my eyes. But children nowadays are driven by peer pressure. How could he even attempt his weekend homework when his mind would be in a whirl, knowing he didn’t have the one thing which could help him focus! He was fidgeting.

After our initial refusal, he did a pretty hardball sell, saying it relieved stress, helped focus and eventually improved concentration. He kind of had my husband at ‘relieves stress’. (Websites claimed it’s also a cool office-toy of 2017). Half the battle won. As for me, I am a stay-at-home mum who spends her days solving crosswords, exercising, socialising and ending her day with a good book. How stressed does he think I am? I was still firmly holding my ground. Knowing more aggressive steps were required, he used a masterstroke. “It also burns calories”, he said specifically looking at me. Ah! Not that calories really mattered, but I was now suddenly seeing the merits of helping my son focus. So, we set out post-breakfast to a well-known Chinese mall as per the instructions from a friend’s son. Several harassed parents seemed to be looking for those as well and if we wanted the best one(s), haste was of paramount importance. Jogging around the mall, we located a few shops and stalls selling these. There they were. In flesh. In all their glory. After a detailed scan, we narrowed our choice down to one stall. My son bought a metal one and a yellow plastic-cum-metal after doing a few tries. Not to be left behind, me and hubby also proceeded to buy a few for ourselves.

Calorie-controller, stress-reliever and focus-machine — all-in-one. So why penny-pinch?

Initial tries, like the recent North Korean missiles, were failures. We took some time, but have now, after about 200 attempts, finally got the hang of it.

The benefits were reaped but in unexpected ways. Calorie control via me being busy with my spinner and not stepping into the kitchen, stress-relief since there was absolutely no weekend homework attempted and focus enhancement via each of us trying to focus on which of our spinners was fastest and longer-lasting!

But now, real life has beckoned and knowing these benefits can’t pull us through a working week, we have cast ours aside as we turn our focus to more immediate pressing issues like weekend homework.

Madhavi Ochani is a freelance writer based in Dubai.