Why I Understand My Kid’s Slime Obsession

My daughter is still obsessed with slime. There’s a large box of ingredients in the kitchen and different forms of goo all occupying our spare Tupperware. We still limit what chemicals she can use and watch as she spends hours squishing her fingers through her latest creations. All of that is still happening.

Of course, since the last time I mentioned all of this, Big Slime has found a way to monetize every inch of this stuff. They sell activators and DIY kits. There’s butter slime, cloud slime, scented slime, and slime that comes with little charms in it. Olivia is a connoisseur of them all.

I know some parents get annoyed about this mushy pastime and I can feel their pain. Although, if I’m being honest, I feel somewhat hypocritical when I gripe about her sliming. After all, don’t we all complain about screens and computers? Weren’t we clamoring for a creative activity our kids could grab on to? Isn’t the exact thing she’s doing now equal to what would be considered a science project during our own childhoods? This is the same kid we forced Play-Doh and Oobleck upon. Now she’s making her own. Yay, science.

I know I’m oversimplifying things. After all, she doesn’t just like making slime, she’s captivated by it. I’ll be in my office as she comes trudging in, carrying an oversized bag of coins, and lays it out in front of me. She’ll declare that it’s $22.45 and ask that I get her more slimy supplies from Amazon.

I take the trade-off, make the purchase, and press send. The moment I tell her I did, the questions begin.

When is it coming?

Soon. I will let you know.

Is it here yet?

I literally just ordered it.

How long does it take? Like an hour?

An hour? What do you think this is? The Jetsons?

What? The Jetsons?

Never mind and no. It doesn’t take an hour. It takes maybe two days.

Two days!

That’s when I put on my old man voice and start telling her about how it was in my day. Four to six weeks for delivery. Art Linkletter told you to call. All that good stuff. It was the 1980s. The only thing slower than waiting for a package in the mail was waiting for the rotary-dial phone to get through a number with a bunch of zeroes in it.

owsFor the next two days, she asks me every minute about it. I no longer hear a simple “good morning” but a “good morning, is the slime here yet?” My goodnights are accompanied by “did my slime come?” If it was my birthday, instead of the obligatory “how old are you now” verse, she would sing, “how long till my slime?” The stuff covers my house like Ghostbusters and it’s annoying.

Honestly, it doesn’t seem all that exciting to me. She stretches it and squishes it against the counter while declaring that it’s “so satisfying!” I watch as she makes it snap, transform around giant air bubbles, and knead into dough. I would be very confused by her love for all of this, if only it wasn’t for one thing.

LJN WWF Wrestling Figures.

At her age, I couldn’t think about anything except for the big rubber action figures from the World Wrestling Federation. They were human-shaped gold. I kept my army in an old milk crate and, even though they collectively weighed the same as a Honda Civic, I still dragged them through the house. Anyone who came near me got a full introduction of each guy and what moves they could do in their frozen poses.

There were dozens of different characters available all over. Sure, you could pick up a Hulk Hogan or Iron Sheik at any ol’ Toys-R-Us, but if you wanted the hidden gems like Adrian Adonis and Ted Arcidi, you had to hit up Child World and JC Penny at the mall. I planned my life around getting to those stores to simply look at what guys were on display. The day that JC Penny closed its toy department was a dark one in my wrestling universe.

Adults were weird about my wrestling figures. My third-grade teacher, still one of the top three meanest people I have ever met, would scream and yell about our “stupid He-Men dolls” even when we didn’t even have them in school. I had grown ups try to take them away or talk about how “dumb” they were. Every single time they did, it felt like a personal attack.

These figures were my identity at the time. I know it sounds insane to say as an adult today, but I remember that being true in my ten year old mind. I was wrapped up in them and all they stood for. It was part imagination, part escapism, and all fun. I have found few, if any, events that I’ve ever looked forward to on the same level as I did in fifth grade, dashing to the wrestling figure section of the toy store. It had a profound effect on me at that age.

I may not “get” slime, but I get slime. I get the obsession and the questions. I can feel her excitement when the latest batch of glue and activator ships. I was a kid once too. We all were. While I might shake my head at some of the things my kids like to do, I can totally relate to the pull they have on their lives. I can remember feeling strongly about something that few adults understood. I know what it’s like to feel like their scorn for my favorite toy was really their scorn for me. So, I don’t do that to her.

Sure, I might tell Olivia to be patient on shipping or go out of my way to avoid the kitchen when she’s squishin’, but I still respect her love of creating. I want her to feel like she can try to share her excitement with me. If not, then sooner rather than later, she might just stop trying.