The Narwhal And The Unicorn

You know that feeling you get when your kid does something selfless, and you are just praying for that miracle of affirmation to your kid?

Yup. Right here.

Yup. Right here.

Each child had a basket of balls to throw…

...onto a table that looks like this

…onto a table that looks like this. Note the yellow “grand prize” square at centre. It’s erm, important :)

Now, skill has little to do with this, because those balls are light-as-air, bounce off the edges and roll everywhere, making it near impossible to plan a shot. Also, Queen E traditionally wins bigger prizes than Rockstar does, by flinging balls with joyous abandon, all over that table.

We used to call this game “Entertainment Cost,” not unlike the analogy I use for basic gambling – beyond a legitimate throw (i.e. one that lands on the table), you have no real skill or knowledge to help the outcome, and what you are really spending money on is the excitement and entertainment of tossing a ball randomly and seeing if it lands you a stuffed animal, usually hideous. In other words, you do not go into this with the aim of getting a large toy on the cheap (or making it rich, in the case of gambling) – you pay money to throw balls or dice or watch pretty horsies thunder down a track. Not unlike the money you spend on movie tickets (hence the nickname “entertainment cost”)

This evening, Queen E turns up nothing, while Rockstar for the first time scores three “small prizes,” – tags to be exchanged at the end of the game for toys. The pink unicorn Her Highness has her eye on is worth two tags, and upon reading the redemption guideline Rockstar immediately gives her the two she will need, keeping just the third for himself. (I swear, I did nothing to influence that; in fact, when he does it, along with that little glow at his selflessness, I feel a little terrified – what if he regrets it and feels he’s given too much, and then swings the other way, not sharing anything in future? What if Queen E prattles some thoughtless thing at his gesture, simply because she goes on and on about everything? Rockstar’s never won more than one small prize at this booth before..)

Rockstar: (When we’re about to leave) Mum. D’you think I could get a few more tries? Just to see if I can win anything else? 

Me: Sure – try a few more. <still a bit scared>

Rockstar wins the Jumbo Grand Prize in the next few throws.

We are now staring at a choice of a(n expectedly hideous) huge goldfish-thing with bulging eyes, or a yellow Shopkins character (I would also call this hideous but the Shopkins People might be upset.) The stall lady tries valiantly to convince Rockstar to go Shopkins, “It’s the only one left, everyone wants this thing, whatever it is, and you can’t get it elsewhere.” (I especially like when she says “whatever it is” 😀 )

Queen E, also Queen of (too often) Unsolicited Opinion, jumps up and down excitedly, “Get the goldfish, get the goldfish, Ko-ko! It’s bigger than me! (Kudos for her being unreservedly happy for her brother in his moment of triumph too, even as she hugs her little unicorn tightly)

Rockstar continues to hesitate, and so I ask, “The one you really want is the narwhal, isn’t it?” (The blue thing in back of the second picture). It is a lesser prize – the “Large,” rather than “Jumbo Grand” prize. And it’s the one Rockstar happily goes home with.

So many learning opportunities, in so few minutes. Would you take the goldfish/Shopkin just because you could, even if that wasn’t what you really wanted? Would that make you truly happy, or simply happy enough? And what happens to what you really want, then? Are you depriving yourself of something that is ironically more attainable and which would make you even happier than the “harder-to-achieve” item, by going after something “just because you can”?

One of the beauties of “demand and supply” (about everything, from derivatives to soft toys) is that the value someone else puts on something – in this case hideous goldfish/ Shopkin vs narwhal may not necessarily be the value you put on it. And that can be just awesome.

(No idea why this is her pose with "Uni")

(No idea why this is her pose with “Uni”)

And so Back To School begins with Rockstar waking to a narwhal, and Queen E being greeted by a unicorn off the bus. Queen E, not surprisingly, has found a new love of unicorns :) So are we grateful for our blessings, this Easter.

Have a good week back, dears…

ps: Did the rockstars go camping over Easter?

...or inactivity haha this is how Queen E takes her turn as goalie

Is that a tent? Coming soon…

pps: Someone asked me why Queen E doesn’t look that happy in the first picture where Rockstar has given her two of his tags. She was initially saying something like “But I didn’t win that myself”

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About Aileen

I blog about living and raising my son in Hong Kong - where toddlers have entrance interviews, parents keep test score spreadsheets, private school debentures can trade for more than half a million USD. Raising Rockstar's the most important thing I'll ever do. We show our true colors by the choices we make in bringing up our children. My blog is a message to my toddler son, about what the world and his parents are like today - for when he becomes a teenager and knows everything.
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