What is my kids’ fascination with slime? This year both of my daughters asked Santa for slime for Christmas. They asked for other things too, but slime was at the top of the list. When I think about slime, it’s hard to see past the obvious…it’s going to make a huge mess…it’s going to get in the carpet, you’re going to leave it out and it’s going to dry up, it’s going to collect hair and dirt, how long can it really last? There is nothing practical or useful about slime–even by toy standards, but that’s not really the point of slime in the first place
There are thousands upon thousands of slime videos on YouTube and millions of #slime posts on other website like Instagram. It’s not just my kids…it’s a lot of kids, and a lot of adults too, who are obsessed with slime. Most of those videos are just people filming themselves playing with it, but a lot of them (the ones that should be banned) are the ones that teach my kids how to make their own slime using real ingredients you can find in your house…
Art therapist Nadia Jenefsky says, “Children in general are getting less sensory and tactile input from playing outside and picking up sticks or making patty cakes out of mud. Slime has come in to take the place of those activities that we are less inclined to do because we don’t want to make a mess or can’t go out in nature as much.”
In the book of Genesis, we find God playing in the mud as he forms Adam from the dust of the ground. The scene gives the creation narrative a thoughtful, almost playful tone. Biblical scholars even point out that Adam wasn’t initially named “Adam.” Literally translated, it was more like “earth creature” or “earthling,” (one who is literally made of earth). Perhaps playing in mud (or slime for that matter) and getting messy is part of what it means to be created in the image of the creator whose hands got a bit messy when forming the world’s first humans. Creation evokes joy and joy connects us to our world, to God, and to others. Mark Twain wrote, “To get the full value of joy, you must have someone to divide it with.”
Even now, my kids eagerly await their slime–perhaps not the slime itself, but how much fun they’ll have playing with it together. That’s hope isn’t it? Leaning into the things that give us life and leaning away from the things that drain life? It’s trusting that something’s coming, and I don’t know quite what it is, but it’s going to be awesome, and I’m going to be a part of it and cherish every moment. It’s a hopefulness that’s lost on many adults, including myself, from time to time, so maybe hoping for simple joy isn’t such a bad thing this Christmas.