The virtual pets on key rings that were popular gifts for kids this past Christmas reminded me of the Cabbage Patch Doll craze of many years ago.
Our girls were at a good age then — too old to want one of them — so I was spared the wild search to provide what the ads claimed every little girl had to have for Christmas.
I remember the house slippers that looked like Cabbage Patch babies. I thought they were cute, so I asked our youngest daughter who was in high school if she would like to have a pair of them. Her reply was “Good grief no! It would be like walking around on babies!”
While we were not involved in the Cabbage Patch doll chase, we were involved on a more adult level. Our oldest daughter made one of the dolls. She did such a good job on it that all of her friends wanted her to make dolls for them to give as Christmas gifts. It looked like a good way to make some extra cash, so she began to take orders.
She made so many dolls that she devised a manufacturing system. She made the arms, legs, heads, and bodies separately.
When she had a whole batch of them donem she ran them through the washer, and then sewed appropriate parts into one complete doll. She then dressed them according to order and delivered them.
It worked beautifully until the washer stopped in mid-cycle one night. As she explained it to me, “Do you know what it’s like to raise the lid on the washer and see baby body parts floating in the water?” It surely dampened her enthusiasm for her money-making project.
I remember hearing mommies tell about how their little girls insisted on taking their Cabbage Patch Kids along wherever they went, and I remembered watching little girls charge unencumbered through various stores as their mommies chugged after them lugging the doll the kid insisted had to go along.
That brings us back to the virtual pets on the key rings. It seemed the kids collected the pets all summer, supposedly taking care of them.
When school started they had to leave the pets at home. Guess who had to keep the things alive? Right, the parents who even took them to work with them.
This year the middle daughter decided she wanted to experience a virtual pet. She adopted one of her daughter’s Christmas gifts while her daughter was at work.
She nurtured that thing for several days, pushing all the right buttons. She said it was really demanding, but she was determined to keep it alive.
Then early one morning she saw something she hadn’t seen before. She awakened her daughter, showed her the pet, and said, “What’s happening? What do I do?”
Her daughter rubbed the sleep from her eyes, looked at the pet, and said, “Do nothing.”
“But what’s happening? It looks like two pets.”
Her daughter sighed sleepily and then explained, “It’s all grown up. It’s getting married, and moving out. You’re done!” as she closed her eyes to go back to sleep.
When our daughter told us about it we just looked at each other and laughed. “Don’t bet on it,” we advised her.
Editor’s Note: This column was first published in the Greenville Advocate on Jan. 21, 1998.