It’s the wee small hours. The urge to snack is strong. The fridge is downstairs. The house lights are off or dimmed. And lying in wait is the Lego. Pieces of Lego are pre-programmed to move themselves autonomously in any poorly-lit space to be beneath the sole of the descending foot of any human. They are born without ears to prevent any distress caused by the screams they are directly responsible for. They also cluster in places where feet might fall after the original strike, ensuring that by the time the fridge light comes on the nocturnal snacker is at the very least in need of long-term counselling and anger management exercises.
The same is true of small shoes, cat vomit and cacti that might have been knocked over whilst pets go about their business. Collections of Shopkins (look it up if not a parent of small children) can produce agonised reactions as well. And now another hazard joins the pantheon of things you really don’t want to step on in the night — slime.
Slime is not new. There were versions of it around when I was a kid, and it even has its own literary niche in Fungus the Bogeyman created by the illustrator Raymond Briggs. Slime has form and it is enjoying something of a renaissance.
As parent to an inquisitive child that likes to be at the forefront of all things new in a fast-changing world three things currently preoccupy her. The first is having a husky. Considering the UK house would be cramped for a dog half the size of any grown husky this has been put on hold until we can afford something bigger, and the husky urge channelled into hooking her up with a man I know who actually races huskies in the UK. Yes really. They hurtle down forest tracks in Lancashire on wheeled sledges at breakneck speeds and generally do things that every adventurous kid would like to get their hot little hands on… but I digress. The other two are slime and putty. Putty is a close relative of slime and though it does not quite have the street-cred it has a certain cachet.
“Daaaaad…can you get me some slime?” “Err…OK…we’ll have a look when we go shopping.” Child beams happily. Meanwhile, and still in pre-slime mode Junior Child introduces me to the YouTube channels devoted to slime, the use thereof. Entire channels. And there are slime stars, all women I note for later investigation as to why men are not in the slime cosmos, who manipulate this stuff with a sound like a rolling crackle associated with the popping of bubblewrap, another deeply addictive activity the value of which is lost in a Freudian mist.
Hours of slime-watching later we find ourselves shopping. Into the toy shop. Slime? Vacant looks from shop-persons. Putty? Similar. Downcast child slouches off muttering about the inability of Pakistan toy shops to stay abreast of cutting-edge kids’ stuff. She brightened when I suggested we might make our own, there are recipes on the internet. Boundless joy. Looked at recipes. EEK! Recipes on back burner.
The very next day (yes it really was the very next day) we had to visit the same toy shop on a separate mission and there on the counter — SLIME! Boxes of the stuff! Packets of multiples of different colours! And wonder of wonders — magnetic putty which was a new one on me but not Junior who spoke eloquently about its chemical properties and thixotropic qualities — look it up — and the absolute necessity of having at least one tin of it close to hand at all times of the day or night.
Clearly somebody at the toy shop had their ear cocked the day earlier and gone and done the needful. Slime is now spreading across Bahawalpur in a glutinous wave.
Back home and Slime Rapture, pictures on Facebook and me having panic attacks at the possibility of tiny kids suffocating to death under the table with gobbets of slime nasally/orally ingested. Whilst in the shop I noticed packs of Shopkins, last year’s must-have. Want? Naaah. Ah well, I suppose on balance I’d rather step on slime than a Shopkin. Tootle-pip!
Published in The Express Tribune, August 9th, 2018.