Tuesday, August 19, 2008

No Kin Like A Webkin

Ainsley is now the proud adoptive parent of a Webkin.

Her Webkin is an adorable golden retriever puppy who she has named Freckles and who, like her stuffed Lumpy, has become a member of our family. Freckles watches her eat, sleeps with her, and is petted goodbye every morning before school. Yesterday afternoon she carried on a conversation with him before we left for the gym, which from what I overheard, consisted of an introduction to her most prized possessions and a stern command to guard them while we were not at home.

In her 6-year-old mind, he's a real puppy. In my mind, he's better than the real thing because he doesn't have to be house trained.

But wait! There's more! For those of you who don't spend a lot of time with school-aged children, the Webkinz's biggest draw is that they are virtual pets who need to be cared for online. Kids can create an account using a code attached to each new Webkin and create a room for their new pet. They accrue Webkinz dollars and can use them to buy food, water, and toys for their animals. Each pet has a meter where kids can see how happy their pet is, whether or not he needs to be fed, and whether or not he's healthy.

It's a fairly intense online experience. I will confess, I got a little overwhelmed helping her check on Freckles after school.

"Did you have a Webkin when you were a little girl?" Ains asked after we had gotten Freckles onto his little virtual doggy treadmill to get some exercise.

No, Webkinz were not in my 80s childhood. But, oh, my 30-something friends, we had something better: the Cabbage Patch Kid.

Has there ever been a more precious adoptable toy? The Cabbage Patch and Mr. Xavier Roberts birthed the concept of children adopting creations of cloth stuffed with polyester fill. Pound Puppies, Furbies, Beanie Babies, and now Webkinz all owe their origins to those hard-to-get dimpled dolls.

My mom and sister could not find me one during the great Cabbage Patch drought of Christmas, 1983, when mothers ripped other mothers to shreds in department stories over the one doll each store ordered to meet the demand of the approximately 5 million kids who had asked for one from Santa. I imagine that Christmas, 1983 was when a lot of kids learned the truth about Santa.

By my birthday in February the dolls were a dime a dozen and even the grocery store where my brother-in-law worked got regular shipments. He picked my Corisa Mavis right off the delivery truck, and from the moment I unwrapped her I loved her fiercely.

She had tan skin and sandy-brown hair that was short and curled all over her head save for two straight yarn pigtails. She was boxed wearing a dress and matching bloomers, but she looked like an athletic sort of kid, so my sister bought her a yellow and white sweatsuit that I immediately changed her into. I can still remember how she smelled; remember how Cabbage Patch Kids were scented with baby powder and smelled like real babies (real babies who never poo, that is)? And her name: Corisa Mavis. When I saw that on her adoption certificate, I thought it was the most beautiful name I had ever heard. Corisa was my constant companion for the better part of a year and even after I had grown older maintained a place of honor among my favorite toys. When my mom would purge my dolls and stuffed animals and donate the bulk of them to Goodwill, I always made sure Corisa was in the "save" pile.

A few years later when I had a real baby in my family, my nephew, and the Cabbage Patch craze was mostly over, my mom got both me and my new nephew a Cabbage Patch Preemie. Sadly, I can't even tell you his name; by that time I had outgrown dolls and felt that the whole Cabbage Patch thing was soooo over. Once they started making the Cabbage Patch dolls with "real" hair and bodies that were made of hard plastic that could be washed, I think they lost their novelty.

Since then, I've watched as other adoptable animals and dolls have come and gone. I've always been a sucker for cute things that need a home, so I completely bought into the Beanie Baby thing. Those little poems on the tag that usually ended with a plea to be taken home and loved tugged at my heart long before people started collecting them to make oodles of money off of them on eBay. In fact, most of mine are tagless because I initially didn't know any better.

And now that we've got one Webkin in the house, I've heard from other parents that we will end up buying more. The pets get "lonely" and like to interact with one another. I must confess that I have my eye on a little Siamese kitten Webkin that I will buy for myself if Freckles gets really, really lonely. Not because I want one myself or anything, because that would be crazy. I am a grown woman, after all.

A grown woman who is a sucker for clever toy marketing.

Did any of you have a Cabbage Patch? Did you keep the adopted name or change it? What was your favorite stuffed pal when you were a kid?

1 comment:

Karen said...

Miriam Belinda was her name - I think it was originally Marilyn Belinda. She had the same kind of hair as you mentioned, but brown and she had blue eyes. My grandmother beat up some lady for her, I think. ;)