And then it spins. And spins and spins and spins.
And that's fun. Apparently.
You can balance it on a finger. You can toss it from one hand to the other. But most of all, you can fidget with it, which is the point.
The argument in favor of these nefarious devices — and don't worry, I'll get to their nefariousness soon! — is they help kids focus by relieving their need to fidget. Some parents of children with autism, ADHD or anxiety say the spinners are helpful. Experts seem to have mixed views on their overall efficacy.
But if there's one thing children don't care about it's what parents or experts think. They see a schoolmate spinning a brightly colored plastic thingy and then know nothing is more important than GETTING THEIR HANDS ON ONE OF THOSE BRIGHTLY COLORED PLASTIC SPINNY THINGYS!
(In the children's defense, that behavior is similar to parents who see another parent with the latest version of a smartphone and immediately run out to upgrade.)
And therein lies the problem with fidget spinners. As a parent, I can testify that the gadgets help my child focus. But that focus is solely on spinning, collecting, discussing and dropping fidget spinners.
He talks about fidget spinners. He spins fidget spinners. He breaks fidget spinners and then feels tragically sad about broken fidget spinners.
He wants to obtain more fidget spinners, because there is always another spinner better than the 73 he keeps in his pockets. He asks that we watch him do a fidget spinner trick, and then he fails at that trick because it's physically impossible. Then he asks for my newly upgraded smartphone so he can watch another instructional video for physically impossible fidget spinner tricks, of which there are 19 million.
At school, every child has a fidget spinner and the entire building hums like a giant white noise machine. Some schools across the country, including one in Evanston, have banned the gadgets, presumably out of fear that if all the children were to simultaneously spin their spinners in the same direction it would form a vortex that could wipe out half the city.
The spinners cost about $5 up into the hundreds of dollars, depending on how insane you are. I'm confident the American economy is now at least 40 percent fidget-spinner-based, and it may yet grow.
I don't know who planted these devices in our country, but it was clearly a malicious act intended to distract us from more important issues, like the latest versions of smartphones and foreign countries itching to invade America.
Many fidget spinners are manufactured in China — I know this because my extremely focused son recently bought a pack of 10 spinners from a Chinese distributor. (I wish I was making that up.) So I suspect China is behind this so-called fad.
At the rate things are going, the Chinese military could overrun the West Coast and our children would be too distracted with their fidget spinners to notice anything, and we adults would be too distracted by our annoyance with fidget spinners to care. There have been times lately, amid the incessant whir of spinners and the occasional yelp of a sleeping dog struck by a dropped spinner, when a Chinese invasion would have been downright refreshing.
So I think it's time, in the interest of America's future, that we eradicate the spinner menace.
I'm going to get on that as soon as I run out and buy the latest smartphone. I just saw a guy with one that has a slightly larger screen than mine.