Nicole has recently discovered a new love, the crane machine at Wal-Mart. My folly that brought it about was parking on the wrong side of the parking lot. Because I was parked on the wrong side of the store, we had to pass the mysterious alcove containing all of the flashy quarter machines. The first time the girls asked to enter this wondrous place, I reluctantly agreed, on the condition that they realize that all of the machines cost money and I would NOT provide them with any change for the games. This satisfied them until that glorious day when the tooth fairy brought Nicole two shiny quarters. What higher earthly bliss could there be than in depositing your quarters into the machine for the chance to win a stuffed animal? The next trip to the store found us in front of a crane machine filled with stuffed animals of all shapes and sizes. Nicole eagerly deposited her precious quarters, carefully moved the crane above her animal of choice, watched in awe as the crane lowered around the animals head and began to lift..... The animal raised ever so slightly before the crane slipped off and it fell back among it's fellow play things. Her disappointment was great, but thankfully, not overwhelming. I explained that the cranes were not made very strong because they were made to get your money, not to lose their toys.
When another tooth fell out, Nicole began to entertain hopes again. She came to me one day and confessed that she didn't really believe that the people who made the cranes were just after money. She felt that the cranes were made poorly because the people who made them had other things on their mind and must have just been in a hurry to get the job done. She then asked if I could take her back to Wal-Mart to try her luck again. I agreed that we could go while Erika was in dance. I wondered how many times she would throw her quarters away before realizing that those games are a scam. When we got to the store, Nicole carefully examined each and every machine, in fact, she spent more than ten minutes analyzing the machines to make sure she would pick the best. She carefully placed her quarters in the machine and began to move the crane. We held our breath as the crane came down around the head of a purple panda and began to lift.....up and over and down the chute. Nicole had won her panda bear! Great was her delight. And Great was her exultation that she had been right all along and the crane builders were really honest people who just wanted to help little girls get new toys.
She has lost several quarters since that wonderful day, but her faith in the machine remains unshaken. I find myself worrying a little over whether her faith in my warnings will ever return (not that Nicole has ever had much faith in my warnings).