Why You Shouldn’t Buy Your Child a Hatchimal

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“What the what?”

That’s about the only response I could muster when someone sent me an article about parents writing their kids a note from “Santa” apologizing in advance for the fact that some kind of toy called a “Hatchimal” was temporarily out of stock.

Apparently I am out of the toy loop, because despite having two children under the age of five, the first time I heard of a “Hatchimal” was in an article about how parents are practically suicidal because they cannot buy one for their kid in time for Christmas.

So I Googled, “What is a Hatchimal?” Google tells me:

“They are little furry interactive creatures living inside a large hard-shelled egg.”

And apparently, they are the holiday toy this season.

“What’s A Hatchimal And Why Does Every Child On The Planet Want One?” reads one headline. “Hatchimals: A look at the hot toy of the holiday season,” reads another.

Yet another story in TIME tells me about two brothers who “predicted the Hatchimal craze” back in October and bought $5,000 worth of the toy which they are now reselling to these poor, desperate parents at a 300 percent upsell.

And so a countless number of today’s parents are left with no choice but to ghost a note from the North Pole on fancy letterhead and all along the lines of this one:

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Except that parents do have a choice. For starters, they can resist the trendy toy movement altogether, and in doing so, save themselves a lot of angst, and their wallets a little cash. But more importantly, they can teach their kids an important lesson that will serve them well into adulthood: Resist trends.

Toy trends are nothing new, nor is any kind of trend for that matter, be it social or political. But that’s just it: they are trends. They might bring temporary happiness or a fleeting sense of belonging. But trends are not going to bring the kind of deep-seated confidence that comes from learning to do things independent of what everyone else is saying or doing.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a total trend curmudgeon. But I will never forget the Christmas my parents gave me luggage, and not the thing all my friends were getting that year. At the time, I had to mask my disappointment. As an adult, not only do I still use the luggage, but I took it with me on countless journeys around the globe. It was a gift that conveyed to me, quite literally, “chart your own course.”

With Justice Scalia still not yet a year gone, I am reminded of one of my favorite of his quotes about family life. He said: “We had our own culture. The first thing you’ve got to teach your kids is what my parents used to tell me all the time: ‘You’re not everybody else. We have our own standards and they aren’t the standards of the world in all respects, and the sooner you learn that the better.”

And what better time to teach your children that lesson than at Christmas, when some families are tearing through the aisles of Toys “R” Us in search of the toy du jour? What better opportunity to get your kid something else, and an additional toy for a child that won’t get one at all?

Ultimately, there is something profoundly Christmas-like about not having everything the way you want. The entire holiday exists because two parents could not even find a roof under which to have a baby. Consider the absurdity of the fact that, thousands of years later, people are celebrating that holiday by apologizing to children because a Hatchimal could not be procured.

And yet that absurdity is our culture today. The first step in resisting it is an easy one: Calm down and buy something other than a Hatchimal. I promise: Your child will be okay.

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  • LAM

    These things look ridiculous to me, and we all know that in 3-4 days they’re long forgotten in the bottom of the toy box anyway.

  • conor_ob

    I dunno, looks kinda cool. Just because something is trendy doesn’t also necessarily mean it’s not worthwhile — maybe, maybe not. Content matters. In this case, it’s just a toy. It’s not supposed to compare with “the kind of deep-seated confidence that comes from learning to do things independent of what everyone else is saying or doing” — but I guess just give coal if you want to teach your child about the joys of disappointment. Nor is bucking a trend self evidently a good thing (see: Colin Kaepernick). Just trying to understand the point here other than the author is frowning at what other parents want to give their kid for Christmas.

  • noufa

    Ecto Cooler juice boxes were a thing back in my day. Repeatedly asked mom to pick them up & she repeatedly came home with Minute Maid. When grocery shopping with her, I checked prices on the Ecto Cooler & Minute Maid. The Ecto Cooler was cheaper! It must have been on sale! I had to bring this to her attention!

    “Honey, Hi-C is just sugar water. Of course it’s cheaper. But I want you guys to have actual juice in your lunches.”

  • RobertM

    “Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a total trend curmudgeon. But I will never forget the Christmas my parents gave me luggage, and not the thing all my friends were getting that year.”

    Ashley, I sincerely hope your parents weren’t trying to send you a message!