Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Suburban Apologist, or my Son's Obsession is Rubbing off on Me

Normally I don't feel like a creature of the suburbs. I just happen to live here, and wince as I turn into our neighborhood with its welcoming slab of granite announcing which of the identical developments you are entering. But Henry's latest favorite pastime, and my interest in it just blew all my anti-Suburbanite too cool for the strip mall cred.I am talking about Webkinz. They are stuffed animals that you adopt online and then they appear on your computer screen for you to name, and play with in a virtual room, kind of like doll house, but much more gender neutral. But you can also buy them pineapple and passionfruit, and cook them panini sandwiches, and shop for them.

You can dress them like Pirates and name them and bathe them and buy them a swimming pool. There are also computer games that are child friendly, and books you can buy and read inside Webkinz world. And a cave you can go into and mine for virtual riches once a day. Henry has a Lion that he named Iop(?!), and he checks on him once a day and usually plays with him a little as well. He is so much more attached to the real stuffed animal than he is to any other toy he has had since he was tiny. On some level it is very real for him, and that is how I get sucked in too. "Mom, will you put Iop to bed for me?" This means get on the web, log onto Webkinz, and instruct Iop to get into his virtual pajamas and then go to his virtual bed. It is much easier than putting real children to bed, so I always say yes. And he would know if I didn't do it because he would find him out wandering in the virtual yard the next day and he would give me a hard time.

Lucy has a tree frog that Henry uses on the computer and tonight he made both of the animals dinner.He set the table for them and folded their napkins, and baked both of their entrees in the play oven.

And of course, he wants more of them because in each animals bio it lists a "best friend." He doesn't want Iop to be without his best friend. What's a mother to do? Explain about marketing ploys to a five year old or tell him that his birthday is coming soon?


Anonymous said...

OK, I tried to go online and get into this, but

a) They wouldn't let me use Lolita as my name -- what if that really was my name, eh?!

b) You can't just do it online, you have to have some kind of code.


Em said...

It's very simple. You just go buy a toy (they make a pug) and then name it Lolita with the username Humbert Humbert, unless it was taken of course, and you would be good to go.

They also sell a Bull Dog. So you could be Benno owning Handsome Dan, for example.

Then we could meet in Webkinz world and challenge each other to a Cook off or a Runway Modelz walk off or some such. Good fun!

Auntly H said...

I am simulatneously repulsed and tempted to run out to look for the lab/shepherd mix so I can join cook off. Marketing is scary! The thing most holding me back is that I don't have a great name idea.

Anonymous said...

Once again, this blog is Ahead Of The Curve!

The NYT has a feature article in today's Circuits section about Webkinz!


How cool did I feel, already knowing about it?!