Who needs a fidget spinner anyway?

It came in a nondescript box, part of an online order my daughter made using her allowance.

I didn’t expect it to be anything other than one more piece of junk that I’d step on and throw away eventually. If I’m being honest, I’d have to admit that I had no idea what it was that she ordered along with a Lego set. It was under $3, after all, and she had the money.

As it happens, I was spared the worst kind of trauma and disorder, because what she ordered was a fidget cube and not a fidget spinner. God, in his mercy, knew the limits of what I could endure.


In case you live in a world with grown-ups and are protected from the horrors and irritations that gadgets like this can produce, let me explain what a fidget spinner is.

It’s something you fidget with.

Gone are the days when a chewed up pencil or an old pen will do. Though I have it on good authority (and based on my own school-supply purchases for my brood) that school still, in fact, uses writing utensils, the new model of fidgeting assistant has a double-digit price tag and only one use.

You sit and spin them in your hands.

At the risk of sounding like my 90-year-old grandmother, can’t you do that with your pen?

However, as I was diatribing to myself about this very fact, I found a perspective that stopped me in my tracks.

Because this fad — and that’s what it is — comes at a cost.

Fidgeting is something we all do, right? But for some people — especially many on the autism spectrum — it is a form of therapy and a way of dealing with the world.

Now it’s gone mainstream. And the cost of that for those who actually need it? They get what helps them taken away. Banned, in fact, from many classrooms.

I’ve long been a listener to Heather Ordover’s excellent CraftLit podcast, and in the last few years, she’s been exploring the concept of cognitive anchoring.

She began her podcast as a way of giving knitters a way to read classic books while their hands were busy.

Confession: I don’t knit. Never have. Don’t ever plan to. But I do dishes and laundry and drive. I have plenty to keep my hands busy, and I love a book in my ears.

Turns out I’m not the only one.

But let’s take it a step further. Have you ever known someone who doodles during a meeting? Ordover defines cognitive anchoring as anything your hands can do automatically to help your brain “attend to phone calls, conference calls, or on-the-dull-side meetings.”

Seems to me that fidget spinners could well fit into that category, however annoying they may be to the rest of the world.

I’ve made a firm resolution, though, that no fidget spinner shall ruin my domestic bliss until we sit and spin through a Rosary. After all, that devotion understood the value of anchors centuries before our culture figured it out.

The rosary’s been my prayer fidget spinner since I sat on a mattress in my apartment learning it as I journeyed into the Catholic Church.

In fact, as I explain it to non-Catholics — starting years ago with my own family of origin — I tell them it’s a way to keep your brain busy so your mind can turn to God.

The Hail Marys are my path to shutting up the constant to-do voice in my head, blocking out the busywork distractions I can’t help but have.

When I truly succeed (about once a year), I find that I am keeping the hamsters busy running around in circles and paying attention in a way I rarely do these days.

It’s not that I’m seeking silence (though I am), it’s that I’m finding rest. It’s not that I’m looking for a break (though I’d like one), it’s that I’m given peace. It’s not that I suffer less (though I can’t help but wish), it’s that I’m able to accept more easily what’s given to me.

We can’t help but look for something to keep ourselves busy.

We’re tethered in a world of constant contact, ongoing communication and never-ending noise, yet we’re still looking for something to anchor us.

We really don’t need to look any farther than Mary, who will lead us right to the Anchor we need.

Sarah Reinhard writes from Ohio. She is online at SnoringScholar.com.