Last week I was blessed with a day off from school for teacher professional development. I mean, come on! What to do with a day off mid-week? These were the ideas:
children’s museum in the city– drive or public transportation? Driving could mean traffic. Multiple subways to walking to doing it all again on the return…right.
new lego store– why? Just to have them beg for lego sets that end up broken all around the house? educational arts and crafts project at home– why start now? other super fun place I hadn’t thought of yet– answer in the question
What did we decide? The movie theater arcades of course (no movie, just arcades.) 4 kids under 6, 2 moms. Decent ratio. In the arcade room, there were: 4 rifle shooting games (ugggh), a ride-on motorcycle game that all 4 kids rode at once, and 2 driving games (none of the 4 kids were tall enough to both reach the pedal and drive), and one of those all-parents-everywhere-run-like-hell-from-toy-crane-grabber games. This particular hellish crane grabber machine is filled with a bunch of tiny, rubber duckies with various patterns and colors on them. Each kid gets 4 tokens ($1) to play ONE TIME. B immediately zeroed in on the baseball duckie. We had an extensive conversation about how “you get what you get and you don’t get upset.” We all know where this is going. He carefully moves the crane with such excited anticipation, attempts to line it up right over the tiny baseball duckie, and lowers it down. Bam! Cow duckie. I see the tears start the instant the cow rubber duck drops down the shoot. I remind him of our conversation just 1 minute earlier…ya know, the you get what you get, we’re going to appreciate that we even get to play this game at all, lucky that we get anything conversation. Out the window. Now B is bawling and screaming, “I can’t help it!” He tries to negotiate with his friend for the basketball duckie. Fail. Devastated. He refuses to even make physical contact with the cow duckie. It goes in my purse along with everything else they can’t live without.
All of a sudden he opens his hand and reveals 4 more tokens. “Where did these come from B?” I ask. I realize we cashed in a $5 bill for 4 kids to play, leaving us with one extra set of tokens. Where do I go from here? Do I insist he suck it up and drive home the completely-lost-on-a 5 year old concept of you get what you get…OR!!!! Do I let him go another round, ignore my meaningful lesson and all rules of playdate fairness, and pray with all my might that he gets the baseball duckie on a second round?
We go for it. Purses hit the floor. My mom friend squeezes between two games to position herself almost behind the machine at a side diagonal angle to get another viewpoint on the baseball duckie different from mine. I take joystick control. “Stand back!” I yell to the kids. Navigator mom starts giving me instructions on where to line up the crane, in a totally different spot than I would’ve picked. “Are you sure [Navigator]?” “Um, I think so.” Now she’s just as nervous as me, her voice almost trembling. All the kids have eyes on us and the baseball duckie. The red button is flashing. I hit it. The crane lowers. Bam!!! BASEBALL DUCKIE down the shoot! B grabs the duck. I literally scream, give B a huge embrace, jump up and down, and run circles around the arcade room, throwing him in the air and cheering. I think it’s probably like winning the world series. Baseball rubber duck world series that is.
Where’s the duck now? He sleeps with it every night, won’t let it go, and just can’t stop praising me for going that extra mile and making all his baseball duckie dreams come true. OR I found it behind the couch collecting dust when I went to write this post.
And that’s how you do a Professional Development Day folks.