Flickr photo by MG SheltonSilly Bandz sound pretty innocuous -- so why are these animal-shaped rubber band bracelets the bane of parents' existence?
Because your kids walk out with five on their arm and come home with two.
The new kid obsession (hey, if you read it in the Times, it must be true, right?), the Silly Bandz are quick becoming the new target for bullies and whip smart kids everywhere.
To collect as many from the other kids in the class as possible -- and not give up any of your own.
Selling for less than $5 a 24-pack, there's a host of different designs -- each more attractive (to kids) than the last. But parents can handle $5 ... not, as one mom told me, $20 for "stupid rubber bands that don't even look good on their arms."
She's got a point -- the first time I saw these things hanging off a kid's wrist, I thought she'd stretched them out horribly. Little did I know they were supposed to represent crowns, horses, and zoo animals.
Kids these days, I tell you!
And the kids want them all -- which means either Mom and Dad cough up the $5 at a time for over a dozen different multi-packs PLUS Silly Bandz accessories, or the kids trade on the playground.
That's where, inevitably, the power struggles begin. It's where third-graders hustle the kindergartners out of three Bandz in exchange for that one they claim is just the coolest. Where kids end up getting in trouble for "sharing" with other kids.
My 8-year-old cousin came home practically in tears recently because she had to give back the Silly Bandz another little girl had gifted her -- because the parents protested (and my aunt agreed she had to give them back).
If your kids have fallen prey to the lure of the Bandz, here are a few tips for saving your sanity:
1. Set a number rule -- If they wear X number to school in the morning, they can't come home with Y number that evening. Even if the Bandz are shared, if they have the same number at night as in the morning, chances are things are pretty even.
2. Make them buy them -- At $5 a set, they rack up, but if your kids are using their allowance on them, they'll quickly learn to be a little more particular about who they're gifting their Bandz to.
3. Set a no school rule -- Let them wear them on the weekends or even to playdates where you're sure the other kids are on the up and up, but limiting the school time means limiting the chance they'll become collateral in a playground war.
Are the Silly Bandz making you crazy?