I’m not crazy about kids. Fairly sure I’ve mentioned that before. Despite this fact, I would be lying to you if I said I can’t respect the way a child’s mind works. I can’t help but believe if we had retained some of that innocence, bluntness, and brutal honesty; the world might not be in the shape it’s in today.
Kids have a way of telling you like it is. I like that.
So, this evening I went grocery shopping, a somewhat uneventful necessity of grown up life, and as I was leaving I paused in the foyer, or lobby, or whatever that little part of the store in between the doors is, and was instantly elated. Why? What in the world could this part of the store possibly hold that would instantly change my drab, angry at the cost of groceries, attitude into a giddy, happy, child-like character? It’s simple…a claw machine.
I’ve mentioned this before but, claw machines are my weakness. I simply cannot pass one without chucking half my life savings worth of quarters into it. I’ve been that way since I was little, thankfully, as I’ve grown older, I have at least become pretty good at it. What good is a childish obsession if you have nothing to show for it? I could literally fill a room with just the stuffed animals that I’ve won from claw machines. What can I say? It’s an addiction!
So there I was, stuffing quarters (Okay, dollars) into the claw machine, minding my own business when a family with two small children entered the area and started looking at the other games next to me. Directly next to me was another claw machine that I had passed on because the toys were buried too deep and the claw itself looked weak. I’ve learned to judge how well a claw machine will grasp things simply by looking at it, it’s a talent really.
I didn’t think much about the family, or the kids. I smirked at the conversation I heard between the mother and daughter. “I like that little Spock doll” mom chanted. “What’s a Spock?” the girl retorted. “It’s that one right there with the pointy ears, it’s from Star Trek”! “Oh, the vampire?”
Trying not to eavesdrop, I refocused my attention on the task at hand. Just a few seconds later, I felt a tug on my jeans. I looked down in the wonder-filled eyes of a four year old boy.
“Excuse me ma’am” I was both shocked and pleased by his politeness, “Are you trying to win a stuffed animal for your child?”
I thought briefly, the non-kid loving person in me wanted to answer yes to avoid further questioning, but I found myself unable to lie to this little boy.
“No, I’m trying to win a stuffed animal for myself”
“Oh!” He paused for a few minutes; I could see the wheels turning inside as he was trying to figure this all out. “Wait, how old are you?”
Knowing that to a child that age, anything over ten is old and not wanting to see him jump in surprise that a 30 year old woman was well enough to be out shopping, much less playing kiddie games, all I could come up with was “I’m old!”
“Yeah, that’s what I thought! Aren’t you too old to be playing this game?”
At this point, the boy’s mother saved me from further embarrassment however, from the flushed look on her face, he had already managed to do so to her.
I went back to playing my game, I still had 2 credits left and I wasn’t about to just walk off and leave. The boy, though being corralled by his mother, was still watching me intently, I must have mystified him. With the first of the remaining credits, the claw grabbed a little “tie dye” frog. The frog hung on for dear life but alas, just short of the drop off area, fell.
“Oh! You almost had him!” The boy ripped himself free from his mother’s grasp and was once again tugging on my jeans.
“I did! Almost!” I looked down at him and at this point realized that he was really a cute kid. I reached deep within myself and said “I’ve got one more chance, which animal do you like?”
He pointed at a couple on the very bottom, impossible to obtain, and finally I pointed out a little yellow lion resting near the surface. “What about him? He’s cute!” The boy smiled and agreed.
With my last credit, I grabbed that darn lion and gracefully flung him into the prize chute. The little boy laughed like it was the funniest thing he had ever seen. At this point, I must have been bitten by the “kid friendly” bug because I looked down at the boy and said, “Well, take him out, you can have him!” And with that walked off.
I learned two things from my experience tonight: 1. I DO have a heart and 2. I’m too old to play kiddie games, but that won’t stop me next time around!