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I have to have it!

Feb. 25, 2008

by Jen Bakken

As a parent there are countless times when our children ask for things, and we say no.

During trips to the store, we hear, “I want that!” or “Can I have this?” repeatedly.

At home, TV commercials or Internet ads cause our little ones to declare, “I have to have it!”

Sometimes kids come home from school or a friend’s house and announce that all their friends have this amazing toy.

They insist they are the only ones who don’t have it.

Eventually, out of sheer desperation they will plead, sometimes providing tears, hoping to prove their case.

If that doesn’t work you may be witness to an all-out tantrum.

For, about a year, my 10-year-old and seven-year-old children have been asking for Webkinz, and I’ve been saying no.

Simply not convinced we needed another stuffed animal around our house, I’ve avoided this item.

But, impressed with how long they have argued their case, without trantrums, I gave in and purchased them each a WebKinz last week.

I had no idea how absolutely great this addition to our home would be and, I must admit, I should have said yes long ago.

These WebKinz are far more than just a stuffed animal that ends up cluttering your home.

They come with access to WebKinz World, an endless kid-friendly, imaginative and safe web site where kids have fun while learning at the same time.

Their stuffed animal is alive in this virtual world. It’s like the child has a new pet to care for but the parents don’t end up doing all the work.

They have to feed them, send them to school, take them to the doctor, and make sure they get enough sleep.

The pets can get sick, and if their snout turns green its time for a check-up, to eat some vegetables or get more exercise, which helps the children learn about healthy living.

Taking care of the pets teaches children about responsibility.

They can have their virtual pets make play-dates with a friend, play games against each other, or chat and e-mail them.

Most of the fun activities are educationally based and promote spelling, typing, reading, writing and creativity.

Earning KinzCash can be done by playing games or working and be used to buy food, clothing and items for their pet’s room.

This helps kids learn about saving and spending money and that is by far my favorite part of the whole Webkinz experience.

The other day, my seven-year-old was on the computer while her 10- year-old brother stood behind her.

She had just purchased an elaborate canopy bed for her virtual horse named Bella, but decided she like another bed better.

“I don’t know if I should spend all my money on it,” she thought out loud. “I had to work a long time to get that money, but I could sell my canopy bed.”

To which her brother replied, “Yeah, but if you sell it, you won’t get what you paid for it, that’s such a waste of money.”

I have never heard my children talk like that.

Are these the same two children who beg for things at the store?

As I listened to them problem solve, I decided this was the best thing I had ever purchased. My children were doing math and enjoying it!

They had been asking for these toys for so long, and insisting they were the only students in the whole Delano Elementary School who didn’t have them.

I’m not sure whether this is completely accurate, but I can see why Webkinz are a hot item at R*U Sisters in Delano at Delano Crossings. They are also reasonably priced at under $20.

The only problem I foresee is fighting over use of the computer or spending too much time online.

However, this could also be a way to bribe them to do chores or homework.

Also, the next time we are shopping and they say, “I have to have that!”

They may be more understanding if I say no.

Well, that may be unrealistic, but a mom can dream can’t she?