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Toys R Some of Us

By Bob Woodiwiss · April 8th, 1999 · Pseudoquasiesque
Hey, moms and dads with young kids at home, take a moment to answer the following:

Do you ever think of yourself as a helpless parent? A gutless parent? An acquiescent parent?

With your kids, are you a softie? A wienie? An empathizer? A servant? A glorified chauffeur? A "buddy?"

Do you often give in to your kids' unrealistic demands and desires because "it's just not worth it?" To end the tears? So they won't be or feel different from their friends? Or because you can't resist little Billy/Billie when s/he turns on the premeditated cute?

If you answered "No" to all these questions, you're a lying shit and need read no further. If, however, you answered an honest and pathetic "Yes" to one or more of the above, help is on the way. In a form that will delight parents and children alike.

The source of this help is Japan. Yet it requires no rigid cultural superstructure, tradition of respect for one's elders or fish-rich diet to work. No, all you'll need are 12 D-cell batteries and about the same amount of money you spent on that 64-bit video game system you originally said was too expensive, even for Christmas, and that you thought encouraged violent behavior but which you finally came to accept as the price of a happy home and complete childhood.

Say "Hello" to Parentoids. From Sony.

Parentoids are Pentium III-powered, plush, life-sized, unisex, hip-looking versions of you, the parent. They have the tactile, cuddly appeal of Beanie Babies but are more closely related to Gigapets and Furbies; that is, the child must successfully perform certain prescribed tasks to ensure the well-being -- the very life! -- of the toy. Responsibilities are literally do or die.

In test markets, kids have responded to Parentoids even more enthusiastically than they did their predecessors, buying them in record numbers while gladly doing whatever it takes to keep their computerized charges alive and functioning. Now, the Parentoid's in charge!

That, mom and dad, is good news for you. Because Parentoids aren't beeping for electronic food or chirping for interaction. No, to survive and thrive, these big, sophisticated toys require kids to do big, sophisticated tasks. Like completing a science project without your assistance. Turning off the Rap music. Eating the same meal as the rest of the family. Shutting the hell up. And since a toy -- not a nagging or overbearing or cheap or mean parent -- is making the demands, kids are only too happy to comply.

And for the parent whose child demands the very best, that's finally going to backfire on the little brat. With Parentoid Plus. Parentoid Plus comes with a Global Positioning Satellite receiver for a "heart," so, in addition to dispensing behavioral cues, it's also programmed to "die" if it records more than 20 miles of travel in a 24-hour period. That means once a child has forged an inseparable bond with his or her Parentoid and insists on taking it everywhere, s/he can't insist on other things, like going away for spring break, summer vacation or foreign study. Endless weekend lesson-to-practice-to-engagement-to-event-type shuttling is also out, dying the same silent death as unstructured play.

So stop kicking yourself for being a soft, ineffectual and/or spoiling parent. Let Parentoid and Parentoid Plus do the hard work for you. And remember: If you don't give in to your kids' demands for one, they'll just hate you that much more. ©



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