Sparkly, Shiny Promises

I’ve aimed for a special treat for the boys each day of spring break.  Today, we visited the arcade with a handful of quarters for their glorious spending pleasure.

Tuck spent his coins on experiences: virtual motorcycle rides and shooting galleries.

Tyler spent his coins and best efforts on things: the Claw Game with sparkly, shiny promises inside.

Tuck found exactly what he was looking for; Tyler left empty-handed.

He was most distraught, begging for more quarters.  It’s a hard life lesson, that first trip to the arcade, when you realize the odds are against you and the machines are rigged.

“See, buddy, let me tell you: those are tricky machines and it’s very, very, very hard to win the things inside.  But they don’t want you to know that until you’ve put your quarters in and it’s too late.”

(I did, by the way, warn him of this pitfall before he put his quarters in, before it was too late.  But my words were useless until he experienced it for himself.)

“Well, then that’s a meanie bully game.”

“It is, kiddo.  You’re right.”

“It tricked me.”

“I know, buddy.  That’s how it happens sometimes.”

You give what is asked, and you don’t get what you want.  The shiny promises leave you empty handed.

…Sometimes you just have to love what’s in your hands.

He stationed himself outside the entrance of the arcade, personally alerting passersby to the fraud happening just inside those doors.

On our way out, I gave each of them two more quarters to use in one of the guaranteed-prize, toy-vending machines.  A hope for redemption, albeit a toy no bigger than a dime.

Tucker got a blue ninja.  Score.

Tyler got a green dinosaur.  Disappointment struck again: it wasn’t as big as the picture on the outside of the machine.

I get it, kiddo.  I wish I could tell you this isn’t how it goes, that life owes you a full refund.

Sometimes, you’ve got to invest your energy in listing all the ways you can imagine, pretend, and utilize a teeny-tiny green dinosaur.

Sometimes, you just have to love what’s in your hands.

5 thoughts on “Sparkly, Shiny Promises

  1. Hi Tricia, I have been following your amazing journey for about a year and a half now. I’ve only commented a couple of times but I have been truly inspired by you. My husband has had several “bouts” of illness. Cancer twice and other things. I feel connected to you in a way because I have two boys also. When Mark was first diagnosed, they were 3 and 5 and I often imagined myself in the position you are in now and laid awake many night wondering how I would ever do it alone. I often think your story could so easily have been mine.

    I am also inspired by the lessons you teach your boys and the way you do it. I often think WOW I wish I would have thought of that at the time. They are not 11 and 14 and I can’t rewind but I see the lessons you are teaching Ty and Tuck and now understand how very important it is to start early with the easy ones.

    • Thank you for those very kind words, Bonnie. Thank you for reading my thoughts, and thank you for sharing your encouragement with me. I receive with both hands. :)

      I am thankful for your family’s journey and your husband’s health.


  2. LOVE, this! Very much. Kinda tempted to go get my own teeny tiny green dinosaur to pocket, just to remind me. But I guess life has already provided its own little menagerie–in my pockets and heart. I love how you were able to take a seemingly simple moment, and make it applicable to us all.

  3. “Sometimes, you just have to love what’s in your hands.” Wise words. A hard lesson to learn, to be content with what you have. But in learning this lesson now, your boys will be ready to handle disappointments in the future.

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