One of the unexpected pleasures of homeschooling is the ability to schedule playdates on weekdays to places you would normally avoid like the plague on a weekend.
We have a chain here in my part of the state called Boomers, which has an arcade, miniature golf, go-karts, batting cages, and lots of other kiddie fun stuff. We met another family there last week, and being nine year old boys, they decided to hit the arcade first.
But these arcades are a far cry from the ones of my youth. Instead of video games to play for the sheer pleasure of playing (after all, kids today have the option to do this all the time at home) they have games that you play solely for tickets.
Yup, stupid little pieces of paper.
But to the Munchkin and his friend, these tiny stubs that multiple trees gave their lives for are the equivalent of gold nuggets. Each one is to be gloated over, hoarded obsessively in any and all available pockets, or even better, having too many to hold in your pockets, and finally tallied up when the parental money store has put up the “closed” sign.
And such whining and begging for more chances to play! Each game is expertly canvassed as to probability of maximum ticket winning. Now if only they would devote as much attention and time to their schoolwork as to calculating the odds of winning these games!
My son’s playdate companion won something like 80o tickets out of one game, and I recognized the symptoms of seething envy in the Munchkin. He frantically attempted the game next, only to win something like 12 tickets.
Them’s the breaks, kid.
So off they head to the redemption center. I’m thinking to myself that our friend is going to get something pretty sweet with his thousand or so tickets.
Silly, old-fashioned Glinda! It turns out to get anything even halfway decent, you had to have at least four thousand tickets. Four freaking thousand!
It took a minimum of twenty dollars to win that thousand tickets, and I assure you that you could go out and purchase any of those prizes for less than what was spent on playing the games.
I tried to turn this experience into an object lesson about how places such as Boomers are just trying to get as much money out of people as possible. I went into how much the actual games cost versus how much was spent and…
Yadda, yadda, yadda.
My son had the glazed look of an addict who isn’t ready to hear his intervention team. He didn’t care what I was saying, he was cradling his Tootsie Rolls, Laffy Taffys, and packages of Fun Dip as if they were the greatest treasures in the world.
You won this round Boomers.
But I promise you won’t win the war.
Mainly because I can’t afford to go back.