Tracy Lee Curtis

Hoverboards spark childhood memories

So much for standing up straight when you hover, kid.
So much for standing up straight when you hover, kid. AFP/Getty Images

I think it’s hilarious that the people who made this year’s hottest, most dangerous Christmas toy in the world, named it after the very thing we parents are most famous for, but will not be able to do once they start playing with it. The hoverboard.

It’s motorized, but there’s no seat belt. You drive it, but there’s nothing to hold onto. You operate it on the open road, but you don’t need a license. And the only way to slow down or stop is to stand up straight, and middle school boys don’t know how to do that.

But when my neighbor calls asking if I’m really going to get one of these things – like every other parent, by the way – I tell her yes, because it’s the only thing my son asked for, after a naughty-free year. Besides, it’ll be faster when I need him to run up to the grocery.

I don’t know how pastimes evolved like this. The thing we had the most fun doing growing up was running around the yard while our dad sprayed us with the hose. We were all together, we were outside and we were barefoot. Kids are never even barefoot anymore. They want to wear their shoes because the shoe people put Michael Jordan on them.

Then news comes that the hoverboards are catching on fire and, in some cases, blowing up. And the neighbor calls me again to ask if I’m going to return it.

Return it? It’s bought and wrapped! Even a charred and smoldering version of the gift he wanted is better than not getting it at all. It says Santa still comes to the house if you’re nice. Incentive is all I have in this life; I’m not giving it up over some warning. Even Legos come with a warning, and those things kept my kids happy all the way through preschool.

And it’s not a car. It’s not like you’re contained. If it catches fire, you just jump off. Seriously, a hoverboard really is safer than other toys on wheels – even roller skates, because skates are tied to your feet and the only way to stop is to roll into the grass and drop to your knees.

And it’s less hassle than a skateboard because once you step off, it stops automatically. A skateboard continues to roll all the way down the street and into the sewer. And I love that you have to stand up straight to stop a hoverboard. My son might actually learn some posture.

So here we all are. Nine kids hovering around the street. While we hover around them. With our fire extinguishers. First one to catch fire wins a prize and gets to be sprayed with extinguisher foam. Just like the old days.

Just watch out for the shoes.