Sort of last minute, our long-time friend and neighbor Hannah invited us over for Saturday dinner. Heck yeah!
Grey was at a friend’s house. I thought he would be dropped off in time, but when 6 pm rolled around, no sign of him. He had recently gotten a phone for his 16th birthday, so I texted him:
Me: We are all at Hannah’s – come there for dinner
After blowing up our family data plan in the first month of use, Grey was clearly watching his data use! 🙂
As dinner progressed through the main course, then dessert, I start to wonder whether Grey would ever show. Then I voice it: “What are the odds Grey craps out and just hangs at home?”
“I bet 45 cents he never comes,” says his sister Pippa, without a moment’s contemplation.
I have no idea the significance of 45 cents, but I was game: “You’re on!” We lock pinkies to seal the deal. Sorta like the ‘unbreakable vow’ in Potter-dom, without the creepy promises and wand-conjured glowing bindings.
If the bet was real money, I’m not sure I would have taken the risk. Grey highly values time at home alone, where he can watch youtube videos or play video games unencumbered by parental oversight (i.e. screen time limits and homework and chore reminders).
I was thinking that the promise of food might sway him, but as time rolled on, I could easily picture him semi-reclined on the sofa, his computer on his lap and a big open bag of chips beside him.
We retire to the living room, and I start to wonder if I should concede defeat like an honorable politician who’s way behind in the count. Nah, I’ll just quietly slip Pippa the coinage later, temporarily saving myself from the gloating.
Then, a miracle: a noise at the door. Could it be? Yes! Grey stumbles in – a couple hours late, but there nonetheless.
I won the bet. And I felt better about his priorities. He chose us over the video game-induced hits of dopamine that light up his brain’s pleasure circuits. The kid is alright after all.
Collecting My Winnings
The effort required to collect a debt from the kids is proportional to the $$ owed. I fronted money for them to see ‘twenty one pilots’ in concert and it was a major effort to get repaid.
For this bet, I didn’t even have to say anything. The next day, Pippa hands me a 50 cent coin and, acting all generous, tells me to keep the change. I was initially pleased, then the smile drains from my face.
“Hey, that’s not right!”
“Whadya mean?” Pippa responds innocently, the smile transferring to her face.
“I’m the only one around here who has 50 cent coins,” I reply.
My dad is well known for acquiring 50 cent pieces and $2 bills. Not for collecting, but for distributing during everyday transactions. He loves the ohhhs and ahhhs he receives in return for using them.
I’m a lucky recipient sometimes. Not long before, Dad had given me a roll of 50 cent pieces to satisfy a $10 debt.
I didn’t want to accuse Pippa of stealing one of my 50 cent pieces to pay off our bet, but…
“Where did that coin come from?”
“Oh, I found it.”
“Did you find it on my dresser in my change bowl?”
“Daaaaaaad! No, I found it on the floor in the family room.”
Then it hit me. She had gone fishing under the lay-z boy recliner, where coins often drop out of my inverted pockets. I didn’t know whether to be proud of her resourcefulness, or annoyed that she beat me to it.
I pocketed the coin. Then I went straight to my car to collect the pile of coins that had tumbled from my pocket there. She had out-hustled me once, but I was determined it wouldn’t happen again.