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The 50 cent Lesson

Our soccer friends were much more generous than we.

As in.

Their pockets and purses emptied two quarters at a time.

Six year old boys and their little brothers tugged at their dad’s sleeves or their mom’s and sputtered with bottom lips that they needed another quarter. Or maybe two. And with a blind hand, fingers pulled out more quarters and placed them lovingly into small palms. Whereby small feet hurried them away.

Pizza was delivered. And left untouched. The lure of the arcade–its lights and noises and capsuled trinkets had pied-pipered the children away. Even ours.

For 50 cents. Just 50 cents. They could twist this knob, the one right here and get a chance at a plastic prize. And sometimes even the plastic prize.

Our daughter brought her own money. And joyfully darted to the arcade. Our son followed. Quarter-less.

In minutes both returned with empty faces. He, for having had no money to throw away. And she, for the “prize.” “A jawbreaker,” she moaned. She unfurled her fingers and we smirked at the yellow-speckled candy. Fifty cents. For two chore-earned quarters she had acquired a piece of candy she couldn’t even eat.

Husband and I shook our heads. We knew her loss hurt. Fifty cents when you don’t have five bucks is suddenly something.

But fifty cents–just fifty cents–to learn that you can’t trust the lights and the noise and the pretty plastic package. Fifty cents to etch in your brain and maybe even your heart that happiness doesn’t drop from a twisty-knob machine. Ever.

Well, then.

That’s fifty cents worth spending.


One Response to “The 50 cent Lesson”

  1. Carolyn Moore says:

    I am so proud of you parents for not filling the empty hand with 4 quarters because then it wouldn’t be a life lesson at all. Oh to learn these principles when they are small matters that seem huge.

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