If you were to ask my 5- and 8-year-old daughters what they want for the holidays—just kidding! You don't have to ask. They've been writing and re-writing their wish lists morning, noon and night for approximately the past 11 weeks. Included among their must-haves are snow globes, kinetic sand, the new Kidz Bop album and a hamster, which means they're also clamoring for my dead body since the hamster will have to crawl over it in order to get into our house.
Not on their list, or even in their vocabulary, is a Hatchimal. That's because they don't know what it is although they'll learn all about it when they unwrap it at the end of this month. I learned about it some time last month when I started seeing articles about how the "it" toy of the season was already sold out. I remember the Tickle Me Elmo craze of 1996, and I may or may not be old enough to have been young enough to be one of the kids who had to have a Cabbage Patch Doll in the early '80s. Over the years, other manufacturers have tried hard to make other toys seem as in-demand, but it just hasn't come to pass on an annual basis that there is one thing that everyone must have.
I can't even really explain Hatchimals. From what I can tell, it's some kind of egg that you need to coax into hatching through different interactions with its high-tech shell. Then the surprise penguin-koala-dragon-unicorn hybrid creature will hatch ... and annoy you until it breaks sometime during the week between Christmas and New Year's, or until your kid leaves it on the bus or forgets about it by President's Day. That's around the time you'll probably see Hatchimals on clearance tables for a price that is embarrassingly lower than what you spent.
Really, my kids will have one. One each, that is.
They usually feel as if they're the only ones left out. Now they'll be in, for a little while, anyway.
For 364 days each year (363 during leap years), I say no to my kids an average of 37 times daily. No, they can't skip a shower. No, they can't have a third dessert. No, they can't stay up five more minutes five minutes after they got to stay up for another five minutes. Nope, sorry, I won't arrange for a play date at 6 a.m. on a Tuesday because you're bored. No, I won't pay you to clean your room. And that would be a "no" on whether Daddy will say "yes" when you ask him the same question you just asked me that I said "no" to.
One day a year, it feels really good not to say "no." One day a year, to give my kids the ridiculous thing that I would never in a million years get for them? Yes, sure, OK, definitely, absolutely. I will be that mom who sleeps in line for two days or fights some other mom for the last it thing on the shelf. Those people I've long laughed at? I'm now one of them.
My kids are hardly deprived, but they're not spoiled rotten, either. For the holidays, to give them a gift that will allow them to be in on the joke and part of the conversation? That's a gift for me. It's creating a story and a memory that I'll look back on fondly when I tell myself I'm a horrible parent. My gift is knowing there's at least one thing they will have wanted, that they still don't even know they want because they still don't even know it exists, that is absurd but they'll get anyway. My gift is saying YES. My gift will be knowing they might smile a little more broadly knowing others wanted it but didn't get it. They usually feel as if they're the only ones left out. Now they'll be in, for a little while, anyway.
And in fact, the thing they don't know exists that they don't know they want? They already have it. After I read about it in November, I started researching sites such as Amazon and stores including Target and Walmart only to see it sold out from legitimate sources and is only available from third-party sellers for over $200 (it retails for $60).
On the way out of the store, people saw my dad carrying (the Hatchimals) and offered to pay him double. He refused (begrudgingly, but still).
So I called my parents and told them to be on the lookout for Hatchimals. My parents, who ensured my sister and I had Cabbage Patch Dolls when it was impossible, didn't have to be asked twice. We still talk about the lengths they went to find us those dolls that no one could find back when everyone tried.
Within minutes of telling my parents about Hatchimals, they drove to four different stores. Then my dad went to a fifth, where the toys had been advertised as being available. As it turns out, they did have them, but there had only been a few. He let the manager know he wasn't mad, just disappointed. The manager seemed to channel me as a teen and felt sufficiently shamed for letting down my dad, which was enough to prompt him to "find" two Hatchimals. On the way out of the store, people saw my dad carrying them and offered to pay him double. He refused (begrudgingly, but still).
When Christmas and Hanukkah roll around, my kids won't be getting a note of apology and an I.O.U from Santa. They're on his nice list, and I'll be on theirs. And if that's not a merry Christmas, I don't know what is.
Want a Hatchimal for your kid? The Hatchimal folks say they'll be widely available in early 2017. If you need one before then, though, call a Target, Kohl's, Walmart or Barnes & Noble near you and see if they have a waiting list to which you can be added. Some BJ's are also allowing customers to reserve Hatchimals online for in-store pickup, so that's worth a try. Good luck!