Carnival Prize Winning
In the eight years I've been raising children, I've learned a lot about life.
One thing I've learned is that no one, no one, ever feels the same
way about a prize they won from a carnival game once they get it home. Let's
face it, no matter how much of a good idea it seemed at the time, a nine foot
stuffed gorilla doesn't have the same ambiance in, say, your living room as it
did hanging from a hook alongside a basket ball hoop. I'm not sure why this
happens. Perhaps all of the flashing lights and loud music creates a mysterious
force that compels you to spend tens, sometimes hundreds, of quarters to win
something that you wouldn't take home from a garage sale for free.
So this summer, when my family dutifully made the rounds of county fairs and
carnivals, I made up my mind that there would be absolutely no throwing darts,
tossing Ping-Pong balls, shooting baskets, or any other kind of physical action
that might result in winning a prize.
However, any fool knows that all of the good rides are on the carnival midway--
strategically placed somewhere between the coin toss and the rubber ducky pond.
And sure enough one sunny afternoon, as we were strolling towards the Tilt O
Whirl of Death minding our own business, I heard a voice call out from the water
gun races," Win a jumbo Pokemon of your choice! Only one dollar!" I tried to
ignore it, but I could tell by the way my five-year old son was jumping up and
down and pulling on my elbow, that it was too late.
"Hey, Mom," he said. "Can I try? Pleeeeease?"
I considered telling him all about the mysterious force and the flashing lights
and loud music and all that, but I knew he wouldn't understand.
"Well, OK," I said. "One try." After all, I told myself, I was a good mother
and wanted my child to be happy. Besides, what were the chances of a person
who had just learned how to aim into the toilet accurately, hitting a target
the size of a quarter with a water pistol?
Imagine my surprise, then, when he came in second place. So, naturally he wanted
to try again. And again. And again.
By his fifth turn I finally worked up the courage to do what any smart parent
would've done after the first try: I told him it was time to stop. Then I moved
to lucky water gun number eight and handed the attendant a dollar.
"Stand back," I said, taking aim.
Of course, life and genetics being what they are, I didn't win that time. Or
the next time either. I plopped another dollar onto the counter.
"What do you think you are doing?" my husband asked.
"I'm going to win a jumbo Pokemon," I said. "What does it look like I'm doing?"
"But those kids are all five years old," he hissed. "You can't play against them."
"You're right," I said. "But if I stay here long enough they will eventually
Sure enough, after three more tries, I finally came in first place
And for a brief moment, as I turned to give my son a high five, I was more than
a suburban mother whose biggest challenge is getting her family to eat all of
the four basic food groups, I was a bona fide water pistol champion. A WINNER.
"Mom, why are you jumping around and yelling like that?" my son asked.
Now I know what you are thinking. You are thinking that the minute I get home
and regain my senses I will regret spending $57.00 to win a $10.00 stuffed animal.
And you are probably right. But, for now I'm going to enjoy my place in the
Besides, in all of the years I've been raising children, there
are two other important things I've learned about life: 1) deep down it's not
really the prize that matters, it's the fact that I made the day more special
for my son and 2) no matter how much money I spent trying to win a giant stuffed
animal it could've been worse -- at least we didn't try the goldfish toss.
[ by Debbie Farmer, Copyright © 2001 -- from 'Family Daze' ]
All Rights Reserved.