The alarm blares, I hurriedly turn it off, fearful to wake up my roommate. The world is dark, silent. Just before I head out the door, I slip on my Heelys, grab my sleeping Tamagotchi and wheel to my 7 a.m. class.
Growing up, I always lacked the popular items that some kids had. When it came to a DS or a Wii, my siblings and I were the ones who had to pay for them. As I got older, this left some kind of desire to want the things I lacked. So, by the end of my high school years, I became nostalgic about these things; I really wanted wheels on my heels.
I have been raising my alien Tamagotchi, Sylvester, as at this point in my life children are a while down the road, but it can be unfair to compare a 90s toy to an actual child.
These battery-powered aliens are about as care driven as children, but a lot less cute. Taking care of them consists of feeding, exercising, giving medicine, cleaning them after they go to the bathroom, disciplining and even turning off the lights when they go to sleep, all controlled by only three buttons.
Since borrowing a friend’s Tamagotchi for a couple of weeks now, I feel guilty wanting it to die, knowing that it is getting needy. Though I wouldn’t mind if it died, I feel I am still so responsible for its life. As I expressed my concerns about my murderous tendencies to my friend, he couldn’t help but remind me Sylvester was a toy.
I turned to my friend, looked him dead in the eye, said, “Don’t patronize me,” and continued to feed Sylvester.
When talking to my sister, a young mother of two, she found my caregiving ridiculous. I would describe a Tamagotchi as one of those fake babies you get in your high school child development class, except you don’t give it back, you don’t get a grade and you get super attached as if it were your actual child.
I began comparing the caregiving of my child to my sister’s 15-month-old baby. In one day, I would feed Sylvester about every hour and a half or two hours, making it usually 8 times a day. This would vary, usually being more than 8 times. My niece Amelia, though, is fed for the three main meals with a snack in between, making it about 6 times a day.
If it were run by numbers, you could say that taking care of a Tamagotchi is more labor-intensive than an actual child, but I think with taking in more context, this assessment can be easily disproven.
In times when Tamagotchi’s want attention, it’ll beep. But in the case of a child, you can expect a good hour of crying. There’s also an obvious difference in a Tamagotchi and a child, being that a child is an actual living person and a Tamagotchi is an intended work of fiction.
According to the United States Bureau of Labor and Statistics, for parents with children under the age of six, they spent 2.15 hours caring for the child: 1.02 hours for parents whose youngest child is from 6-12 years old and 1.39 hours for children under the age of 18 per day. This is for each child. If there are many in the picture, it only increases.
It can be stated that being a parent is laborsome. The care of a child involves sacrifice, and true sacrifice is guided by the love that these parents have for their children. Good parents sacrifice time and money to care for the wellbeing of them.
According to the Consumer Expenditures Survey of 2015, a family spent about $12,980 annually per child in a middle-income family. This is a lot of money for one year for one child. When having a child, sacrifices are made to help their children to grow.
I can definitely say spending $20 on a Tamagotchi is the main expense I had, very different from raising an actual child.
Whether raising a Tamagotchi is a great test on the type of parent you’ll be or not, I can say that it’s a lot more responsibility for a college student than expected.
With my Sylvester, now looking like a cute but weird jellyfish growing old with each second, I can say with confidence that it’ll be a while until I hatch a new egg.
Next time, before having kids, I might test my readiness with a dog rather than having a toy determine where I go and what I do to risk his life. I think a dog will not only be cuter, but give me the same attention I give it, unlike the one-sided attention of a Tamagotchi.
I press the B button to turn off his light as ‘Zs’ float around his head. Sylvester has had an exhausting day, walking back and forth in his one-inch range. Tapping his screen, I wish him goodnight and set him safely on my desk, not knowing that I’m going to forget to grab him in the morning.