Do you know who Cookie Swirl C is? No? Let me tell you.
Cookie Swirl C has a YouTube channel where she is the absolute master of the “unboxing” craze.
What is unboxing?
Unboxing is where a person, usually an adult, films themselves opening toys and playing with the contents of the box. This can be big toy sets, My Little Pony Castles for instance, or it could be “blind bags” which are little packages where you get a mystery prize, such as a tiny plastic My Little Pony.
Because the kids LOVE it. And at first I thought it was ridiculous. All you can see is her hands with spangly nail varnish, and hear her voice as she enthuses over Shopkins, Littlest Pet Shop figurines, My Little Ponies and Barbie dolls. I thought it was bizarre. I didn’t understand why they liked it and I thought it was a waste of time. Something to only allow very occasionally because it was not educational in the least and just plain annoying. Why watch somebody else play with toys when they could be playing with toys themselves?
And then I started to notice something.
Miss Rose was starting to emulate it. Her play was getting more imaginative. Her conversations with her toys becoming more dynamic.
She had always loved playing and been creative, but it seemed like it had inspired her to even greater games, even more vivid imaginative creations.
Cookie Swirl isn’t just playing with toys, she’s teaching kids how to play. She’s showing them how to create worlds with their minds.
Now don’t get me wrong, I like to think of myself as imaginative, indeed I’m making a career out of it, but there’s something about children’s play which is different. And as a busy, stressed adult with a house to run and a book to write and children to feed, actually sitting down to play like that isn’t something that gets as much focus as it should. We’ve played, she loves doing it, but I haven’t given it as much as perhaps I could.
Cookie Swirl has helped developed what I began. Helped take her mind from simple chats between ponies to entire worlds where drama unfurls with various toys entering in to take part. And it has helped me remember what I’m missing… helped me remember my childhood games and how much I want to be part of hers. How much imagination and creativity have been key to my happiness and satisfaction for my entire life, and how much I want to celebrate her feeling that same satisfaction.
Once I got past the high pitched squeaks and enthusiasm that is perfect for kids but drives adults to yet more coffee, I saw the value in this woman and her massive collection of toys.
And Cookie Swirl is the best. Sure there are others, and many are equally enthusiastic and equally well stocked, but Cookie Swirl is the best.
She knows what she’s doing. She has it down to an art form that is flawless.
Miss Rose’s My Little Pony obsession has lead me to be obsessed too and become something of an expert. When other unboxers reveal a My Little Pony character from their blind bag and don’t know who it is I get incredibly frustrated.
“What do you mean you don’t know? That’s Lyra Heartstrings! That’s Cheese Sandwich! That’s Diamond Tiara!”
Rose and I exchange eye rolls, bemused that someone who is making a career out of My Little Pony knowledge has less than us.
Cookie Swirl never knows less than us. Her knowledge is admirable. She does her homework, she understands the characters she’s playing with, and she is able to make Princess Elsa interact with Pinkie Pie like a pro.
Basically, she has invested in her audience and she respects them. She knows they care about it, she knows they love it, and she gives them the attention they deserve by caring too.
Now don’t get me wrong, there is a downside.
Cookie Swirl C has WAY more toys than we do, and we have a lot of toys. The discovery of My Little Pony blind bags and My Little Pony squishy pops has lead us down a rabbit hole of gift buying that I had no idea was out there. And I’m getting off lightly, the My Little Pony obsessed Miss Rose is delighted beyond imagination at the presentation of a £2 blind bag from Tesco. Z’s mother actually took a train to the city to find and purchase a massive Toy Story gun that Z fell in love with on one such video by another unboxer!
So if your child has discovered these YouTube videos and you’re taring your hair out over why they like it, and whether you should put your foot down, take a step back and watch. Is your child’s passion being validated? Are their imagination games growing and developing?
Education can come from more than learning to count and matching colours. Learning to play and use your imagination is equally valuable, in some ways more. So embrace the spangly nailed madness and indulge now and then, because we’ve found it well worth every crazy second.
You can check out all my contact info an links on www.jjbarnes.co.uk, I’m on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram so you can get in touch on there, as well as find links to all my work. There’s also www.sirenstories.co.uk which has all the work by both myself and Jonathan McKinney and loads of extra content such as background stories for different characters. If you want to subscribe on Patreon, its just $1 a month to help support our work and it also grants you access to our extra podcast a week, you can go to www.patreon.com/sirenstories.
Thanks as always for reading, and I’ll speak to you soon I hope!