by Stephanie Loomis Pappas, guest blogger
Like so many other unsuspecting parents before me, last winter I placated my screaming toddler by pulling up YouTube and handing over my phone. Within a few days, he’d managed to navigate to Japanese unboxing videos. For months, those videos were my go-to de-escalation move. My son’s favorite featured a host opening Kinder Surprise Eggs.
Easter was a revelation, and although my son had trouble finding the eggs, once in his grasp he knew exactly what to do with them. He spent the next few months performing his own unboxing routine: “Here we have a large egg. Inside it, we have a Thomas Mini secret engine. Let’s open it and see what we have.” He would then crack each egg on the tabletop to “reveal” the toy he’d just recently placed inside. He even asked me to film his show, but I drew the line at creating his own YouTube channel.
The Easter eggs developed new cracks after a few months of repeated use, and at 5 months, the mismatched remainder halves would rarely stay closed. Thanks to Amazon, it’s possible to purchase out-of-season holiday decorations. 12-packs seemed exorbitantly priced at about $50 per egg when a few months earlier I could have had the whole pack for a dollar, so when I found one gross for $9, I went for it. The “assorted” mix was over half blue eggs, but they were just about Thomas-colored so I rolled with it and planned to tuck some away for later. But my son got to the box. Now, when we “play eggs,” we play 144 eggs. At least we’re getting lots of counting practice.
We caught a break from the egg cracking when we convinced my son he couldn’t bring the eggs on vacation. But as we walked through a foreign airport, looking to spend the last of our local currency, he yelled “Kinder Surprise Joy Egg!” I was as thrilled as he was to see it, both because our flight was delayed and we needed something to do and because I wanted to see one of these US-banned fabled choke hazards for myself. We taught him “con Sorpresa” and handed it over. And then, given our underestimation of the exchange rate, we bought four more. We were happy to spoil him after 10 days of kid-unfriendly travel, and wanted to spare no bribe for the last 18 hours of our trip home.
During those last hours I did my due diligence and helped my son consume all the candy so that all we had when passing through customs were a bunch of tiny toys and some plastic egg shells. It’s hardly fair, then, for all the duty-free shops at JFK to display anthropomorphic shelf-sized eggs containing Kinder’s non-egg treats, taunting children and parents left to wander that airport for five hours, about what they can’t have.
A few failed conversations about trade laws and a few more egg-less flight hours later, we were back home. Our son is back to performing his unboxing, now with Kinder egg shells. They are only slightly sturdier than the gross of off-brand Easter eggs, so I’ll need to find replacements soon. We’re going to need to use his passport more often, or maybe start an illegal import business.