My daughters love going to Kids Night at this restaurant down the street from our house. Sometimes there’s a balloon man and often times they see their friends from school. But always-there’s the dreaded arcade-that lures them in with the flashy lights and music.
They used to be quite content playing the demo rounds of video games but now that they’re older, they’ve grown wise.
“Mommy! Those are just pretend games. To get the real games, we need money! Please can I have some money. Please!”
“You have your own allowance money you can bring,” I’d tell them. Usually, they’d forget and would just have to settle for the demo games, but a few weeks ago my little one REMEMBERED!
Beware of the Dreaded Arcade Claw
“Wait Mommy, I need to get my money for the games before we leave,“ she said and ran back to her room grabbing a bag filled with hard earned quarters. Her big sister followed suit and then we headed out to dinner.
“Now remember,” I said. “No Claw! That game will take all your money.”
We couldn’t have been at the restaurant more than 10 minutes when my older daughter came running back to our table squealing with excitement “Mommy, Daddy! I won! I Won! I won the Unicorn!!!!”
“What? Slow down, what are you talking about?” we said. Then we saw, in her arms, a super adorable unicorn plush toy that she had just won from….THE CLAW.
I was shocked. I had only seen 2 other kids ever win anything from that stupid, money-stealing machine. How in the world had she accomplished such a feat?!!!
“That’s amazing!!!! I am so impressed. Great job.” I said. Then panic took over. “Wait, where’s your sister? Is she now playing The Claw?”
I didn’t need to ask the question. I already knew the answer. And I knew the chances of her also getting something were slim to none. This night was NOT going to end well.
“Mommmmmmmeeeeeee!” I heard my five year old yell from across the restaurant.
Darn it, sometimes, I hate it when I’m right.
“Mommy! Come help me! I can’t get a unicorn like Cassidy! You’ve got to help me!”
“OH Noo. We were not going to do this. We were NOT going to get sucked in,” I thought to myself.
So I got down on one knee and calmly explained how hard those games are. That it’s almost just luck. That they eat up your money. That they’re fixed.
“No, Mommy! You can do it! You can do ANYTHING. I know you can. Believe in yourself. Just come on. Come on, Mommy. I’m serious.”
Dammit. My 5 year old is good.
So then I found myself at the claw machine trying to win a unicorn.
No the pretty purple flower teddy bear. Yes, soo pretty. We have to have her.
Ok, no maybe the elephant.
And finally, out of sheer desperation…the weird turtle-head-robot-guy.
Nope, the Claw wouldn’t even give up the weird turtle-head-robot-guy.
So after way too many quarters, we sadly went back to our seats.
My 5 year old was still inconsolable; crying and crying as her big sister happily channeled Bob Ross and drew pictures of her new unicorn flying in the sky with rainbows and happy little clouds.
So I turned to my little one and again tried to explain that the machine is fixed. It’s a scam to get your money. You’ll end up paying like $15 for a super cheap dollar store quality toy. But this time I tried in 5 year old terminology.
“Zoe, the Claw is a big meanie. He’s like a big monster. He likes to eat money. But it doesn’t mean you’ll get a prize from him. He doesn’t want to give you a prize. He wants to keep all the prizes for himself. So if you do get one like Cassidy, it’s just luck. Maybe some time you’ll get lucky. But I’d advise just use your money and go shopping instead,” I explained.
My daughter’s tears started to subside-just in time for the chicken nuggets.
“Ok, Mommy, you’re right. Next time I’ll go shopping instead. I don’t like that mean Claw. He keeps all the toys for himself,” she said.
I gave her a big hug, and we began to eat our dinner.
And then we saw another little girl run by with the pretty purple flowered teddy bear that I had been trying to win earlier, and I felt my inner-five-year-self yell inside…
Stupid Claw. That big meanie.
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