New York Times
Tamagotchi Diary Day 2
May 4, 1997


Tamagotchi Diary: The Terrible Twos

Weigh In:
8:00 a.m.
2 years
1 lbs. 1 oz.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Tommy, my pet Tamagotchi, is 2 virtual years old today. He's been sleeping for 12 hours, and I'm beginning to worry that he might be suffering from some sort of TIDS (Tamagotchi Infant Delirium Syndrome). Yesterday's concerns about Tommy keeping me up all through the night never materialized. At around 8 p.m., just as I was lifting my first forkful of dinner (Tommy resting alongside my dinner plate), I noticed that he'd fallen asleep, little Z's floating around his simple, close-lidded face.

To say that I was relieved is an understatement. He'd kept me busy all through the day worrying over his feeding schedule, playing with him when he was bored, scolding him when he was being ornery and cleaning up after him when he messed. I shut out his light, darkening his small world so as not to disturb his quiet time.

To be on the safe side, I kept Tommy at my side through "She's The One," pausing the film every so often to check on him. "Just let it sleep," said Drew, my partner. I let the reference to "it" pass without comment. At bedtime, I set Tommy next to my pillow, in case he should need me.

The Morning After

When I awoke, Tommy was still asleep. Was my strangely beloved little friend in a coma? Had he stirred in the night, unnoticed by me? Surely I would have heard his piercing little cries. At around 8:30 I took him into the bathroom with me for my shower (I set him on the vanity, close enough to hear him if here were to wake, crying). Still, nothing.

I was tempted to turn on his virtual "light" to see if that would rouse him. I've heard that babies need lots of sleep, but I'd also heard that they are notorious for feeding and crying in the night. What, I wondered, would I find when he awakened? The sort of mutant the owner's leaflet warns of? Would he be starving? Would he even wake up?

By the time I was into my second or third e-mail of the morning, I noticed that Tommy had awakened. He looked the same as when he'd fallen asleep. I checked his status. His hunger meter showed three full hearts, one empty - hardly famished. His happiness meter showed four full hearts, so he wasn't ready to play. And his screen was clean.

Though he appeared fine, healthy, I was nevertheless concerned; that was an awfully long slumber. Then it occurred to me: Did Tommy's maker, Bandai Co., Ltd., perhaps program all Tamagotchis to "sleep" during reasonable family hours so as to prevent younger parents from losing precious dream-time over the stresses of virtual-pet rearing? That my Tamagotchi went to sleep at the start of Prime Time, not to be heard from again till 9 a.m., seems to suggest a working-schedule bias of cooperative upbringing.

Daily Routine

For now, I was just glad he'd awakened. I fed him a full meal, played with him anyway, then set him alongside my keyboard, where he is now, floating around and making small faces. Oh -- he's just done his morning business. A few taps of the buttons and his small pixilated space is clean once more. So far, no need to inoculate him against any sudden illnesses. The pamphlet warns that Tamagotchis generally fall ill when their space is not cleaned up. I'm a bit of a neurotic when it comes to everything neat and orderly, so I'm not too concerned about my Tommy getting sick on account of my lack of attention.

Are Tamagotchis programmed to "sleep" during reasonable family hours?

I'm wondering: Is my Tamagotchi developing well? He just floats around and smiles. While yesterday he demanded considerable care and feeding, today he seems off to a complacent start. Aren't babies in their second year notorious for testing their hold on their parents? "The Terrible Twos," my mother says, is what they call this stage. My Tommy is anything but terrible. In fact, he's a little boring.

My own brother, Tommy, fell into a coma at age 2 or 3. I was only about a year old at the time, so it's hard to recall, but growing up I'd heard stories. Spinal meningitis was the diagnosis, I'm pretty sure. He stayed that way for months, until one day my Grandfather's handholding and non-stop storytelling, we'd like to think, woke Tommy from his long and distressing slumber. He grew up mostly fine; teachers alternated between saying he was "slow" and "not applying himself."

Weigh Out:
11:00 a.m.
2 years
1 lbs. 1 oz.

Perhaps Tommy was the wrong name for my Tamagotchi, a little too close to home. Why won't he do anything new or different? Is he slow? Am I not applying myself to Tommy's proper upbringing? I don't know what else to do but feed him, play with him when he is unhappy and scold him when he is bad. Why hasn't he grown into another shape? I wonder if other Tamagotchi parents are having similar concerns. There must be some support newsgroup or Web site for new Tamagotchi parents.

Drew just came in with the laundry, asked "How's Mommy?" I did not respond. I'm going to have a look online for all things Tamagotchi.

Tomorrow: Day 3: Tamagotchi Online Support Groups

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