It started like any other day. I woke up, showered, got the kids dressed, and was pouring cereal into bowls for breakfast when Katie piped up, “Mom, I really, really want to get a Tamagotchi.”
“A Tamagotchi?” This was the first I’d heard of her new heart’s desire. “Why do you want one of those?”
“Everybody Else has one and I’m the only one who doesn’t!” she exclaimed, already on the verge of tears that I hadn’t instantly capitulated.
“The only one?” I pressed.
“Well,” she amended, seeing that I wasn’t buying it, “not quite the only one. But Mason has one and Sierra has one and Audrey has one and I want one, too!”
“Hmmm…” I stalled, thinking fast. The mention of Everybody Else had tripped off my parental alarm system. Red lights flashed across my mental screen as I tried to assess the far-reaching implications of this first showdown with the mob. “What do you like about them?”
Caught off guard by this sign of possible concession, she cast around for an answer. “Well….they come in lots of colors.”
“So does the paper I have in my desk, sweetie,” I said gently. “What I mean is, why do you want it? What does it do?”
She paused, thought, and then said, “Uh, it has buttons, too.”
I’d obviously stumped her, and it instantly became clear that her knowledge of the world of Tamagotchi was limited solely to the fact that several of her friends already had one and she didn’t. Not a great reason.
This was the moment, I knew. The moment to meet Everybody Else in battle and kick his capricious little butt before he started to corrupt my sweet child with his siren song of acceptance and popularity. I waded into the fray with armor shining and swords flashing.
We talked about peer pressure. We talked about choices and the reasons behind them. We talked about thinking for yourself and being confident enough to go against the crowd. I had real-life examples; I had hypotheticals; I had everything except visual aids (had I been given more warning, I might even have been able to squeeze out a Powerpoint presentation.) After ten minutes, I sat back in my chair, satisfied that I had covered all the major points and sent Everybody Else running for the hills, pursued by the deadly force of my loving and logical arguments.*
I waited expectantly for Katie’s response to my abundant parental wisdom. Finally, it came:
“I want the pink one.”
You may have won this round, Everybody Else, but mark my words: we will meet again!
And next time, I will have Powerpoint.
*I’d like the record to show that at no time did I pull out the old standby “If all your friends were jumping off the Empire State Building” argument. In addition to a longstanding aversion to the overuse of that particular illustration, I felt that the hyperbole would be lost on my little literal thinker.