My parents were very busy raising four human children in the '90s, and I don't mean diminish the incredible feat that this was, but let's be honest here — I was working way harder than they were. Sure, they had four mouths to feed and carpool and detangle the hair of, but what is that compared to dozens of Neopets I was keeping alive while also working full time sixth grader? When you consider the technological responsibility placed on the fragile shoulders of '90s babies, it makes the effort our parents put into raising us look like amateur hour.
See, unlike the generations that came before us, '90s babies had all kinds of newfangled technology at their fingertips. And with this technology came an unexpected burden — keeping our fictional pets, friends, and characters alive. Suddenly we were responsible not just for our jelly sandal-clad selves, but for an entire army of imaginary and real creatures under our care that needed our care, our resources, and our precious, precious time. And if I learned anything from that experience, it is this: I am going to be a terrible parent one day. A belated R.I.P. to all of these things that I tried so desperately to keep alive for a week or two before ultimately forgetting somewhere and letting die a slow, unremarkable death.
I have some extremely vivid memories of basically having blackout stress in junior high sprinting to the library to feed my Neopets at lunch. Once I figured out that playing Cheat was a really good side hustle to support my many Neopets and their petpets, I was basically Neopet Mom Of The Year. These days cherry_blossom_baby1991 or whatever its name was is probs somewhere starving to death and making sad guilt-trippy faces at other users, it's casual.
Listen, I know that there were a lot of kids who intentionally set their Sims on fire and pulled the ladder out of the pool, but for those of us who didn't realize Sims could die when they logged on as fragile nine-year-olds? Watching a Sim die was the first time I ever was forced to acknowledge my own mortality. The guilt weighed on me for weeks. I am a grown-ass 24-year-old woman and I carry that burden with me to this day.
Remember when you beg beg begged for one of these for Christmas, giggled over it pooping one time, and then promptly forgot about it? God I really hope my future kids have the sense to imprint on me or some other biological nonsense, because otherwise they're screwed.
Our Sea Monkeys
Fess up — Chuckie Finster got "sea moneys" on Rugrats and either you or a sibling had to have them. I'm still not exactly sure about the biological composition of a sea monkey (I put them in the same category of narwhals, or "sea creatures I thought were made up until someone schooled me in an embarrassingly public fashion"), but I do know this: they did not survive the winter.
Somewhere in the world there is a Level 12 Squirtle on a Pokémon Blue cartidge that is super upset with me for never bothering to advance to Viridian city. That is, if he didn't already die while I was aggressively wandering in the grass looking for a Pikachu to emotionally replace him with. (My bad.)
I still have stress dreams about that "YOSHHHIIIiiiiiiii" noise Yoshi makes as it perilously topples off a cliff or gets the living tar beaten out of it by Bowser.
Getting a chia pet was awesome in theory, until it showed up to your house all unimpressive and ungrown and you realized that you were tasked with doing actual human work to get this thing to look cool. And if you made it past that seemingly impossible hurdle, there was no way you were going to remember to water poor Hello Kitty's hair every day when you were way too busy trying to work a hair-o-gami into yours.
In conclusion, future children, if you're reading this — thank the woman who ended up raising you, because if you've made it this far it CLEARLY wasn't me.
Image: sunset1989/Flickr; Giphy