Kid #1 bought himself an iPod off eBay a few weeks ago and has enjoyed downloading some, ahem, interesting apps. Nothing inappropriate, just strange little free games. Like “Tiny Zoo.” I don’t know if it was his idea to download that one, or if Kid #3 talked him into it for her enjoyment.
Anyway, last night at the dinner table, she was telling me about her tiny zoo and the animals therein. This 6-year-old proceeded to tell me that she was breeding an ox with a jackrabbit and was eagerly awaiting the arrival of their offspring. Excuse me? What kind of game is this?
I didn’t think much more about it at dinner, since “dinner” is another way of saying “the time of day when we all sit down together to eat a meal and carry on thirteen simultaneous conversations while trying to impress upon #1 that fart jokes at the table aren’t appropriate, telling #2 not to take her brother’s fart jokes personally, convincing #3 that green veggies aren’t poisonous, and preventing #4 from tossing her leftovers off the side of her high chair tray.”
This morning, #3 comes running into my room crying. I knew something was up because these weren’t the tears of a ticked-off little sister, but the full-on mourning of a tender soul.
Me: What’s wrong, sweetie?
Her: My baby is sick!
Her: I didn’t go back in time, and my baby is sick! Big, huge tears are rolling down her little freckled cheeks now.
Me: confused What are you talking about?
Her: On Tiny Zoo! My baby rabbit!
Ok. Things are clicking into place now. Something about an ox and a jackrabbit.
Me: All right – show me.
So she whips out her brother’s iPod and shows me. Sure enough, there in the Tiny Zoo nursery is her new baby Flemish Giant rabbit. There are red letters stamped across its picture “SICK” and when I click on the rabbit, I learn that in order to heal it, she has to pay 12 coins. She has 4. Coins are earned as you play the game, or you can spend $1 and get 10 coins. Her brother was offering to spend one of his dollars because he can’t stand to see her truly unhappy. I put the kibosh on that and told her I’d take care of it.
I spent the next little while playing the game – it’s mostly a button-pusher. You have to pick up trash in your zoo and feed your animals. All you do is click on little icons. When you’ve done that enough, you level up. I was working to level up, in the hopes that I could earn a few coins, heal the sick little rabbit they were holding hostage in the nursery, and be the hero for saving the crossbred mutant baby.
You know how many coins I got when I leveled up? One. That’s it. I wasn’t going to spend my whole morning clicking on virtual trash when I had real trash here in the house that needed attention. Not that I was going to pick it up in real life, I just felt guilty when I was ignoring it by picking up fake trash.
I clicked on the nursery icon again to see the sick little bunny they were holding for ransom. A menu popped up that gave the options “Heal” and “Abandon.” I clicked the latter, assuming it meant cancel.
I. Was. Wrong.
“Abandon” meant exactly that. I had abandoned #3’s precious little freakshow ox-bunny. Yes, it wasn’t sick any more, but now it was GONE. I made the mistake of telling Hubs. Know what he said? “I’m telling.” How old are you, dude? You’re going to rat me out to a 6-year-old? How twisted do you have to be to threaten the fragile emotions of a sweet child. The only reason the bunny was sick in the first place because I wouldn’t let her play on the iPod again after dinner. Apparently you have to visit the nursery within a certain time span before they put your little darling into hock. So I’m mean for making the oxit (how’s that name?) sick and now I’ve as good as dumped it in a river in a bag.
I frantically started mashing the buttons on the screen, trying to undo my abandon. Apparently, an abandon is forever. Like a diamond, just not as sparkly. I ended up back in the breeder’s lab. (Ick, by the way.) I scrolled down the list of animals and found the Musk Ox/Jackrabbit combo. Hmmm. I had a thought – maybe I could just make a new one and she’d never know. It would solve her problem of not having enough coins to save the sick bunny, and my problem of killing her little fuzzy ward. So I did it. Picking up all that virtual trash paid off, because I had enough of whatever other currency they required to make this unholy match happen.
Want to see the fruits of my labor? In the game, it’s larger (by far) than the Musk Ox. It’s taller than the little granny that toodles around the zoo with her walker. Creepy thing I saved, but #3 thinks I’m Wonder Woman, so who am I to diss her rabbit?