I knew I made the right decision by agreeing to the foggy bubble people.
Weird opening sentence, I know, but it’s totally true. A few weeks ago, I received an unexpected email from someone with “Fobbles”. In the message, I was asked a question that I never expected and one that almost doesn’t need an answer.
Would you be interested in reviewing our fog-filled bubble machine to see if it’s something your family likes?
Yeah. That was an actual question. For a moment, let’s forget that bubbles is the run-away most popular thing in our family. This is fog-filled bubbles that we’re talking about here – as in something magical that I never knew was even a thing before this email. It was like asking if I wanted a free baby koala that pukes money “to see if the family likes it”. The only possible way we wouldn’t enjoy their fog-filled bubble maker would be if it tried to murder us while shooting the bubbles. Even then, we’d probably forgive its attempted homicide because, well, it makes fog-filled bubbles and that sounds pretty awesome.
All four members of our family have very different interests stretching across a wide spectrum. It’s not just because my son is non-verbal, although that does add a twist to it, but mostly because we’re all usually into our own individual worlds. Most days, my wife will be practicing the latest cookie decorating techniques while my daughter constructs a Roblox mansion. I’ll be in the other room watching Japanese Wrestling with Lucas running back and forth between all of us blaring his latest Sesame Street app. I try to show interest in all the activities they enjoy. They do the same for me. Sometimes it’s more painful than others, but we grit our teeth, plaster on a smile, and try to share in the things that make each other happy. It’s a group effort and one that every family does on some level for one another.
We all, however, are on board with bubbles.
It’s just something we discovered long ago that we all love equally. I’m not sure whether it’s the unpredictable nature of them or how low-tech it is in a world where nothing else is, but chasing bubbles is one of the few happenings that none of us has to feign interest in for the sake of another family member. It’s a shared love that we all gravitate to and, when you consider that our tastes range from dropkicks to Elmo, that’s pretty amazing.
When we hit a lull in our weekend, I pulled out the Fobble machine and prepared to unleash it’s bubbly mayhem on the family. As I plugged it in and waited as it warmed up, I was worried that it might not live up to expectations. So many of my over-excited Dad plans sparkle and fade without warning. I was already constructing an excuse and alternate plans in my head…when it suddenly let out a huge burst of fog. Olivia screamed and I proceeded to take a million pictures of my family laughing and running through the thick mist of smoky bubbles. My living room was straight out of the Twilight Zone.
As predicted, my family loved this machine. What’s not to like? It shot fog-filled bubbles in their faces and, when they popped, it looked like a scene from Harry Potter. We knew we loved it before we even knew it existed.
Watching them scream through a haze of flying soap balls takes me back to Medieval Times – the dinner and tournament, not the actual time period. That’s because, much like bubbles before it, it’s another family-shared pastime we were lucky to discover.
My wife, daughter, and I had always on the Medieval bandwagon. We proudly wore our crowns and cheered on whatever knight we randomly were assigned with tenacious loyalty. It always produced a happy afternoon of grub, grog, and entertainment that never failed to send us home happy.
It wasn’t until this year that my son did too. Never one for live shows, getting him to pay attention to any performance required constant pleas of “Look, Lucas. Look at that. You see? Look. Are you looking? See? Where are you going?” Nine times out of ten, he wouldn’t bother. I’d sit there with my finger extended in a point and he’d give me a silent expression that screamed, “Yeah, huh? Nice finger, dork.”
While he patiently sat through most entertainment excursions we thrust upon him, because he’s cool like that, I still always felt bad. These events started to seem less about family and more about dragging him to shows we liked. Deep down, it was as if we were asking him to do us a favor every time. From Disney World Parades to forgettable student musicals at the Children’s museum, he was always disinterested and only seemed to be there to make us happy. I loved him for it, but still always searched for that one magic event that he would like too.
During our visit to the knight-themed dinner theater this year, though, I didn’t need to reach over a chicken carcass and apple juice to direct his attention to the Medieval show. Surprisingly, the Medieval show already had it. I watched in surprise as my son, who has never shown any interest in any performance of anything ever, strained his neck to see the knights coming out for battle. He stared at the falcon flying and sat up straight for the king’s declaration. He saw it all and, for the first time, he wasn’t doing it for us. He was doing it for himself. On that day, Medieval Times took on a whole different meaning for our family. It joined the bubble category as something that’s loved by us – all of us.
Maybe your family kayaks every Summer or puts on floppy hats to go garage sale hopping. No matter what they might be, discovering the things you enjoy as a unit is important in life. Appreciating the activities your loved ones enjoy may be an important part of family. Realizing the things that you all love together, though, is perhaps the most important thing of all.
Special thanks to Fobbles for providing me with their fog-filled bubble machine. You can pick up your own on Amazon!