We went this morning on what was supposed to be an innocent trip to the Monster Golf - this is (for the unitiated) indoor, glow-in-the dark miniature golf set in a maze decorated with images of various monsters moving to the beat of Rockin' 80s music. Maybe they figure that's a way to keep the parents mezmerized while their children play.
Next to the golf course are various video games that allow you to earn tickets that you can trade in for trinkets destined tobe be jetsom (or flotsam?) in the clutter of a child's room. The wise parent stays on the sidelines, handing out the quarters, smiling at the wins and comforting the losses. The foolheardy venture to join in the fun.
Of all the games, the one I have asiduously avoided and thus far been able to steer my children away from is the claw. I know that is the money muncher of all games. It looks so tantalizingly easy - move the claw, push a button and it drops down to grab a prize - a cheaply made stuffed animal that will end up gathering dust but at the moment looks heartstoppingly cute. You can't win, I tell my children. It's a rip-off. But today is a holiday, so I decide it's time they learn this lesson for themselves.
The 6 yo stepped up to the plate. No luck on the first try - 50 cents, plooop down the drain. Let me try just one more time? she begs. It's your money, I tell her. And what do you know? She drops the claw over a coveted pink pony and up it comes! She did it! Knock me down with a feather - she got the very one she wanted and on just the second try. Maybe this isn't so hard afterall. (Can you see where this is headed?)
Now the 3yo wants a try. Mommy figures if the 6 yo can do it.... I carefully position the claw over the desired fish. Drop, drop, drop...right to the fish. the claws close in. Yes! We've got it. But no. The fish is round and slips right out of the side of the claw! Now it's in a really good spot. We have to try again. Drop, drop, drop...right to the fish. Same as last time - bloop it slips between the claws. Lets try for another one? Again, the claw is positioned perfectly. It grabs around the animal, but the slippery animal slides right off the claw. After way too much money was wasted, I finally tore myself away. I just couldn't stay away, however. So close! Thankfully, by the time we went back, the machine was busted. It wouldn't take in anymore quarters. I was saved from myself. After that, we concentrated on the games that spit out at least a few tickets no matter how poorly you performed.
In the end, we had a grand total of 128 points between the three of us. This was enough to get
1 pink monster finger puppet
1 Chinese finger trap
1 tiny Pirate spy glass
2 glow plastic bracelets
3 "poppers" (very tiny pieces of stiff rubber in a cup shape)
Honestly, these silly little toys made the girls as happy as any stuffed animal from the machine would have.
Me? I think I've learned my lesson....send dad to the arcade.