When Jayme Short heard the thump, thump, thump coming from inside her house in Selden recently, she looked at her husband and said, “What is that pounding?” Turns out it was her daughter, Ally, 12, flipping water bottles — a new fad that is driving parents crazy.
The goal of “bottle flipping” is to toss a partially-filled plastic water bottle into the air and get it to land standing up. Kids are attempting it on the playground, inside their houses, at the school cafeteria, in the dugout at baseball practice, at cheerleading practice, everywhere and anywhere they can.
“They try to flip it on top of the refrigerator or on top of the microwave. They try to flip it from the top of the stairs,” says Toni Abatemarco, 45, of Bethpage, a Mary Kay consultant and stay-at-home mom of two boys, ages 11 and 14, who compete to see how many times in a row they can land the bottle successfully.
The noise is making parents come unglued.
“It’s the most annoying thing on the planet,” says Adam Cohen, owner of Just One Wheel in Plainview and dad of two boys ages 8 and 10. “My wife and I are ready to pull our hair out. All parents are tortured. They’re tortured.”
Says Ryan Tam, 10, of Wantagh, sadly: “It’s banned in this house.” His dad, Walter, a 43-year-old system analyst at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, told him he can only practice outside because of the noise — and because he doesn’t want the bottles leaking and making a mess on the carpet.
Some schools aren’t thrilled with the fad either — East Broadway Elementary School in the Levittown School District and East Northport Middle School, for instance, have prohibited bottle flipping any time during the school day. Not in the cafeteria, not during recess.
But the kids won’t be stopped.
“I love it because every time you land it [it] is so exciting,” says Matthew Nittoli, 10, a sixth-grader from Franklin Square. Kids post videos of themselves on YouTube pulling off elaborate flips. Now, for instance, kids are trying to get the bottle to land upside down on its cap — dubbed capping — for even more of a challenge.
“I just do it for entertainment, to keep me not bored,” says Ally Short, a seventh grader. At her sleepover party last week, she and a half-dozen girlfriends played for hours. Say Mom Jayme: “I texted my daughter from my bedroom at 2 o’clock in the morning and said, ‘Really?’”
Bottle flipping started when North Carolina high school student Mike Senatore flipped a bottle during his school’s talent show in May. He posted his act on YouTube, and since then it’s had close to 6 million YouTube views and countless imitators.
“It’s like the Ice Bucket Challenge, but there’s no greater good for it,” says Jennifer Shaer of Dix Hills, a pediatrician with Allied Physicians Group and the mom of 9-year-old Grayson, who she says has left a trail of bottles all over her house and his own videos on YouTube of himself doing successful bottle-flipping tricks. “I feel like my house is booby-trapped. I’ll open my refrigerator and a bottle will fall out because it was balanced on the door,” Shaer says.
Parents are trying to look on the bright side.
“To be honest, I tried it a few times, too. True confessions. It’s fun, actually,” says Jennifer LeBron of Massapequa, whose two kids both bottle flip.
“If you look at it as a positive thing, it is using their brain and their skills. They have to concentrate and keep trying,” Abatemarco says.
Says Kathy Dooling, 40, a nursery schoolteacher from Massapequa with a 9-year-old son who bottle flips. “It builds self-esteem. They say, ‘Look what I can do. Watch!’”
And, at least it’s not an expensive pastime. “I should be happy,” says dad Cohen, “that they’re playing with it and not asking me for a drone.”