If you follow me on Facebook, then you know my entire family is in town for a week--four married kids, three wonderful in-law children and four grand kids. It's a little busy around here, especially since this is week two of the book launch for Dawn's Early Light. So, we've got books stacked on my desk next to crayon-drawings of stars and princess pictures, but we're relishing every precious minute, and tonight was our annual pilgrimage to Chuck E. Cheese.
The men immediately head off to the basketball hoops under the cover of playing with a child. Seconds later, bells are ringing and lights are flashing as the machine regurgitates tickets. The boys pretend it's all about the children and the prizes, but their enthusiasm is just too-over-the-top to sell that line with any credibility.
Nearby, two pre-teen boys sit with their mothers. One comments, "Those guys are good!" His friend replies, "Well. . . they're like . . . 20! If you're 20, you ought to be able to shoot hoops at Chuck E. Cheese!" 20? How about 25, 26 and 31?
When playing a game with a child, should we shamelessly allow them to win, or should we challenge them appropriately for their age? That is the burning question. Here is an interesting slant on that question. Across the room, I'm playing air hockey with my three-year-old granddaughter, Keira, purposely avoiding scoring any points while I cheer on her success. I accidentally knock my puck in the slot and score. Keira's reaction? "Good, Grandma! You're learning!"
To our six-year-old grandson, Tommy, winning tickets is the serious business we are about. So when he sees Grandma feeding tokens into no-ticket-return-infant rides for his toddler-brother, Christian, he hastens over to me and offers this sage counsel, "Don't waste the tokens, Grandma." After explaining that "having fun" is also an appropriate use of the precious coins, our hearts warm upon finding out that Tommy handed one of his tokens to another little boy, a stranger, who was down to his last coin.
Finally we come to the point of the evening--all the hard-earned tickets are counted and traded in for prizes. At a value of 1 cent per ticket, you don't get much in retail value, but the elated expressions on these children's faces provide the real value of this evening. And it's priceless.