They should be called Tama-GOTCHA.
The day that school ended, Child Number Two had one of her little pals over to play... and he brought his brand spankin' new Tamagotchi toy with him. To say that Child Number Two was enraptured with the tiny piece of computer wizardry is a wild understatement. She may be mighty, but she is a nurturing little soul by nature, and the IDEA that a little "creature" could be HERS to look after all by herself... Well.
Her verdict came quickly: She HAD to have one.
I resisted madly. After all, my husband and I have declared this house a "Game-free" zone (and by that, I mean NONE of this "-Boy", or "Wii" technological brainwashing for OUR progeny). So far, we have stuck to our vow. After all, the computers that we have in this house are WAY too tempting for people to become mesmerized by, as it is.
I spoke to the little pal's mother, who is a very good friend of mine. We share a similar parenting style, and I can always trust hers to be a level-headed, well informed opinion. She said that she felt that a Tamagotchi was a fairly harmless toy... her little boy was enjoying it, but its presence in the household did not diminish his enthusiasm of other activities.
Yesterday, when we stopped off at our favourite toy store for a look around, I broke down and allowed Child Number Two to blow her allowance on a Tamagotchi. We chose a nice red one, with a pattern of little folded paper cranes all over it. I even sprung for a lanyard for her, so that the tiny piece of plastic could hang around her neck, and lessen the chance of it being accidentally dropped and lost.
Child Number Two launched into parenting that tiny little "blob" on the screen with great gusto, and with the tendency for obsessive perfection that she has with all activities she sets her mind to. She named the blob "Stela" (we couldn't fit in two L's), and she "fed" it and "played" with it and "cleaned up" after it... It was actually astounding how quickly she figured it out, even though she had only just barely glanced at the instruction sheet.
The novelty had not worn off even this morning, when Stela was brought outside to see the guinea pigs on the lawn, and then on a trip with us to Home Depot. It wasn't until the car ride home, that the unthinkable happened:
Child Number Two: (SCREECHING AT THE TOP OF HER LUNGS FROM THE BACK SEAT, with all the power and emotion of Marlon Brando) STEL-LAAAAAA!!!! SHE'S DEAAAADD!!! AAAAAUUUUGGGHHHH!!!!!
Mother: (wildly gripping the steering wheel and trying to avoid going off the road) GAAKKK!! WHO'S DEAD?? What??!! Where??!! What's happening???!!
Child Number Two: (weeping tears of grief) MY TAMAGOTCHI!! She's DEAD!! A picture of an egg with wings came down and took her away!! I must have over-fed her!! Now she's DEAAAD!! WAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!
Mother: (Hugely relieved) My God, child!! You didn't HALF scare me!! Put that thing on "pause" and put it away until we get home!! Right now, or I'll have an accident!!!
Child Number Two: (hysterical) WAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!! Now Stela's DEAD and it's ALL MY FAULT!!!
Mother: (Getting crosser by the minute, mostly with herself, as it was SHE who allowed the g-d toy in the first place) Child Of Mine, you put that thing away THIS INSTANT!! It is a TOY, it is NOT REAL. Put it away, and I'll take a look at it when we get home!
The irrational flood of waterworks and wailing and gnashing of teeth continued, and became so irritating to me that I promptly confiscated the cursed toy as soon as all four wheels hit our driveway. Child Number Two was sent to her room to regain her composure and clean herself up.
I was left in the kitchen, with the Tamagotchi and a set of instructions that were about as "clear" as Chinese to me...
I just pressed the buttons for awhile, until all at once, to my complete surprise, the Tamagotchi sprung back to life. The little tiny "blob" known as Stela was somehow treated with a little "medicine kit", and immediately started jumping around on the screen, smiling and waving at me.
"That's nice," I thought. "At least SHE'S grateful for something I've done around here... even if it WAS pretty much by accident."
I realized, all of a sudden, that the entrancing little creature jumping and beeping at me had HOOKED ME for a second. It was a TOY!! A plastic TOY, powered by an overly-expensive, likely irreplaceably-sized button battery!!
"My God..." I thought, "I actually FELL FOR IT!!"
And I jammed the offending toy into my cavernous purse.
When Child Number Two came back downstairs, calmer and with an absence of tear-stains, I suggested that she leave the toy in my purse until tomorrow, and hooshed her outside to the garden where her father and sisters were preparing to head down to the pool for an afternoon swim.
After she had gone, I heard a little chirp coming from the depths of my purse.
I eyed the bag, and continued the task of clearing off the kitchen counters.
More chirps ensued.
Soooo... I gingerly went over to the bag, and pulled out the Tamagotchi.
Awwww... It was hungry. Sad little eyes and everything. I poked at the buttons until the word "snack" appeared, and "fed" Stela a few pieces of what looked like sushi. Immediately, familiar beeps and whistles filled the air, and Stela did a dance of joy on the screen and rubbed her tummy. I swear, I could almost see her "grow".
This has been going on for a couple of hours, now... I've folded the laundry, cleaned the kitchen, prepared the dinner, and responded to at least eight or nine of Stela's little requests...
Tonight, though, I SWEAR, I'm going to press that pause button and stash the Tamagotchi in the depths of my sock drawer, just so that if there are any little "cries" in the night, I won't be tempted to answer them... And of COURSE, I'll have to weigh the options before I decide whether or not Child Number Two can handle the "responsibility" of caring for this little thing... And, whether it will impede on any of her other important daily activities...
We'll see if I can part with Stela. After all, she's the easiest to please of all the creatures that live in this house...