Monday, April 23, 2007


My kids are obsessed with Webkinz.

All I can think of is how lucky my mother was I never had any interest in cabbage patch dolls.

My oldest son, who often has a hard time looking someone in the eye? Is on the phone, calling everywhere- Salem, Provincetown- in Massachusetts looking for a Webkinz.

There is a railroad strike in Canada, he informs me. No one can get them.

I’m amazed by his research.

When we arrived in Florida early last week, the first thing he did- before swimming in the pool- was to call stores about Webkinz. He commandeered Jeanine’s computer and did a Google search on stores with Webkinz in the area.

And proceeded to call them all.

Webkinz are small, stuffed animals. There are Webkinz and Lil’kinz, a smaller version of Webkinz. There are 46 different kinds of Webkinz, from cute kitties to silly frogs, tigers and puppies. Lil’kinz are the same things, only a smaller- and less expensive- option. A Webkinz will cost about 12 dollars and a Lil’kinz, about 8.

The catch? You get a special code with your Webkinz or Lil’kinz and then… you go online.

A whole world is waiting for you online. You can meet friends, chat and interact like adults do in MySpace- just a kiddie version. You can invite people over to your Webkinz ‘house’ and have parties. You play silly games to get ‘kinzcash’ to buy stuff. And there is a lot of stuff to buy- food, candy, toys, furniture, TV’s, treadmills- anything you find in a real house? You can buy in Webkinz land.

It’s a little frightening. For one, it’s a pedophile’s dream come true. But the way in which kids are being programmed to be consumers? That’s what frightens me the most.

I listen to my boys when they are ‘playing’ and all I hear them talk about is what else to buy, what else to get for the special little pet.

The positive? Ben actually thought long and hard about what to give his friend from his class who was having a ‘birthday party’ for her ‘Webkinz.’ Should I get her a hot tub? Some candy?

I’m working so hard to try and teach balance, and to understand extremes and… I‘m fighting against Webkinz.

I keep asking myself why? Why did I let them buy them in the first place? To be honest, it was a lack of research on my part. Cute little stuffed animals, I assumed would be like a beanie baby- eventually offered by McDonalds thus losing all allure.

It may still happen but for now? They are still the hottest thing in town. A lot of towns. While in Florida, buying Zachary one (the last store only had two left and he graciously let his brother’s have them), the storeowner told me about her sister calling from Dallas. YOU HAVE WEBKINZ? Her sister was aghast at the holdout. The owner had no idea. She said her sister passed the phone around a group of women- grown women, I might add- to answer their questions and take their orders. You see, Webkinz are now being ‘retired.’ A great company ploy to increase excitement, demand and hysteria in small children.

Or somewhat older children, like my sons. Or, it seems, even adults.

Ben? It makes sense to me. Jake? Sure, he’s only seven. But Zachary? He and his friends, after a day of wrestling in the dirt and mud, come in to coo over their “cute” Webkinz and feed them online. Take them for a “walk.” Or buy them a big screen TV.

The women in Dallas? Well… they live in Dallas. Enough said.

And to answer the reality of why? It’s their own money they are spending… not mine. I can’t control everything they do, everything they eat or every time they burp.

I’d like to but I know I can’t.

While Ben is calling stores, I’m emailing parents. Do your kids know what Webkinz are?

Out of a group of parents I asked, only one did not know what they were. No, let me take that back. She knew what they were- her daughter wasn't interested in them. She signed, "In Sympathy..."

I didn’t ask the Martha Stewart of parenting because I know she’d give me a lecture about consumerism, appropriately monitoring children’s purchases and her own children’s love and affection for all non-consumer products.

I know, I know.

It’s a sickness. Webkinz madness.

I am not driving to Salem, I told Ben as he rushed in to inform me about his last call.

They don’t have any either! It’s a worldwide shortage!

A few minutes later, there are two in Provincetown- RIGHT NOW.

I looked at him and said nothing.

But you love Provincetown… he dangles a favorite gay community in front of me.

No, it’s a two-hour boat ride or a three-hour drive. NO.

He returns to the telephone.

Mom, Ben and Zachary came running in a few moments later. That place in Florida? They only have a couple Webkinz left.

You called Florida?

Yes, she has one pig, two frogs.

BEN! No more calls.

I know if I was a better parent? I’d turn this into a research project.

Right now, though? I’m going to hold my breath and wait for McDonald’s to offer them with their Happy Meals. It killed Beanie Babies and I’m pretty sure it’ll kill Webkinz.

Well… I hope.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

BALANCE=TEACH the kids to MAKE a birthday gift for the webkinz whatever the hell they are. It's cheaper and it teaches them a value.
This from Betsy Ross Barhite, seamster extraordinare

7:21 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

oooooo, I like this idea.

of course, someone will have to show them how to sew.

I have no idea how to sew past repairing a whole in a stuffed animal.

My mother sewed clothes for my Barbies.

For real.

Me? I'm going to import you, Betsy Ross Barhite. YOU teach them how to sew.

7:46 PM  
Blogger Suzy said...

I have no Idea what they are. Maybe becuase my kids are older. Sounds like beanie babies all over again.

9:17 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home