Two weeks ago, the Coach House Gifts store at the mall celebrated its highly anticipated Webkinz Extravaganza! Normally, this event would have passed under my radar, but my friend Kathy called me Sunday afternoon to make sure I knew that the ‘Buy One, Get One Free’ selection of Webkinz was running out. You see, up until that weekend, my kids (according to them) were the last two children in America without at least one of these fuzzy, endearing, cyber-savvy critters to call their own. I decided to take advantage of the sale and make two children happy for the price of one. Bargain parenting, I call it.
I dashed out to the mall that afternoon intending to snatch up the first two fuzzballs I encountered and get back in time for a robust round of power napping (What can I say? I’m a party animal!) First mistake. I should have known that, when presented with the manifest cuteness of five thousand different species of Webkinz, it would take me roughly an hour and a half of picking them up and putting them down and rubbing their fur and choosing first this one and then that one and changing my mind over and over and over again to decide which lucky beasties to take home with me. In the end, I picked out an elephant for Katie and a tiger for Caleb. And would you believe it: I actually felt bad leaving the rest of them behind. (Clearly Ganz has implanted some kind of brainwashing microchip in them to make them fly off the shelves so quickly.)
The reception I received at home would have made the conquering Attila green with envy. I was temporarily crowned mother of the year and showered with hugs and kisses for about seven seconds–the exact amount of time they were able to contain their anticipation before scampering off to the computer to formally “adopt” their new pets and embark on their maiden voyage into Webkinz World.
Webkinz World. I have to tell you, internets, it’s surprisingly cool. In Webkinz World, you can build your pet a house, furnish it, and invite friends’ pets over to play in it. You can feed your fuzzy friend delicious foods, dress him in dazzling threads, and take him to the doctor when he’s sick. If your pet is into exercise, you can take him to work out at a Webkinz health club, and if you just want to play, you can meet up with other Webkinz in a game room. The booming Webkinz economy runs on KinzCash, which you earn by picking up odd jobs at the Webkinz Employment Center, by answering educational trivia questions at Quizzy’s Corner, or by playing games in the Webkinz Arcade.
And here comes the confession: I love playing in the Webkinz Arcade. I love Cash Cow and Picnic and Operation Gumball. But my favorite game is called Home Before Dark, a timed brain teaser in which you have to rotate pieces of a maze into place in order to create a path for trapped Webkinz to get back to their houses before the sun goes down. I accidentally played it for two and a half hours the other day when I meant to be doing housework. Oops.
And that’s my other confession. I secretly log onto my kids’ Webkinz accounts to play arcade games while they’re gone. I don’t think they’d like it if they knew, but I can’t help it. I suppose now I have to stop making fun of Kathy for buying herself her own Webkinz.
I think I might start with a Cheeky Monkey…