It’s been said that there’s nothing new under the sun, and it looks like the ’90s virtual pet that kids all loved (and parents all loved to hate) is certainly proving that one to be true.
I’m talking, of course, about the return of the Tamagotchi, which will be available in the U.S. once again on November 5.
If you were a kid in the ’90s and are reading this right now, then I’m willing to bet you’ve been pretty ecstatic over this news ever since it first made headlines a few weeks ago. I mean, how adorable was that cute little ball of plastic that you had to feed, put to bed, play with, and care for as though it were your very own? (Or at least attempt to care for, and then totally forget about and leave wedged in between the couch cushions until your mom found it.)
But if you were a parent in the ’90s, as I was, then I’m guessing you let out a collective groan when you first heard the news.
I’ll be honest, I thought the Tamagotchi was pretty cute too when I first caught wind of it some 18 or so years ago. But then my daughter brought one home.
She’s now 25 years old, so her Tamagotchi days are still fond, distant memories. But I remember them well. And as fate would have it, I am just in time for the second craze, as the mother of two 7-year-old boys. (Yes, there’s a large age gap between my kids.)
When I first brought that tiny hunk of plastic home back in ’99, it seemed innocent enough. And by that I mean, it looked like the kind of thing that would keep my daughter entertained without requiring any of my own participation. (LOL — joke was on me, guys!)
I remember smiling indulgently as I watched my daughter tend to her little egg-shaped piece of plastic in those first few days and thinking, “At least I won’t have to clean up any virtual pet poop.”
Turns out, the Tamagotchi circa 1999 was needier than any live animal I’ve ever met. And once they started catching on in popularity — and bugging the crap out of teachers everywhere — it didn’t take long before a full-scale Tamagotchi ban was enforced in school.
It also didn’t take long before my daughter made her fateful request: “Mom, can you take it to work with you? Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeease? I leave it at home, it’ll die.”
And so, that is how I came to spend my days caring for a Tamagatchi — me, an adult woman in her thirties.
I had an office job at the time, so it was easy at first to stick it in my desk drawer and check it every couple of hours. But one day, my boss sent me on an errand that took me out of the office for a few hours. On my way back, I stopped for a sandwich and upon my return, I was whisked off to another project away from my desk.
I’m sure I had a fleeting thought of going back to check on my daughter’s Tamagotchi, but for whatever reason, I didn’t. Maybe I was afraid, or far embarrassed to ask to be excused to go make sure the little plastic thingy that lived in my desk drawer wasn’t dead.
I’m sure by now you see where this is all going.
My daughter’s Tamagotchi breathed its last virtual breath on my watch that day, and I had to explain the terrible, awful truth of it all to my daughter. She took it nearly as hard as you’d expect a child to take the death of a real pet.
“I just wanted you to keep her alive,” she said, as she fixed her baleful, tearful little gaze on me.
She might as well have said, “You had ONE job, mom!”
Unlike a real, living breathing pet, resurrection was possible and we re-set the damn thing and it “lived” to annoy me another day. It wasn’t the same after then, and thankfully, she lost interest in it soon after.
And now it’s back.
The new Tamagotchi will hit the stores on November 5, retailing for $14.99. It will be available in six different shells, but your choice of shell doesn’t affect which virtual critter hatches. The newer version is freshly streamlined and will supposedly be easier to manage.
I’m not taking any chances. I’m sequestering my kids until we all come to our senses and the Tamagotchi craze fizzles out again.
Don’t get me wrong — I’m all for nostalgia, but this is one trip down memory lane I think I’ll skip. I can’t take another round of traumatizing my kids by killing their virtual pets through very real neglect.
And I can only pray that they don’t catch wind of the new Teddy Ruxpin, which is set to make a comeback this year, too. Now that would REALLY put me right over the edge!