It was like watching an emotionally charged movie….the kind that brings out the elation of laughter and then later the belly-aching sadness of tears. The thing about our movie..it happened in less than five seconds. It should have been accompanied by dramatic piano instead of the cha-chinging clang and bell- ringing of the surrounding games.
As the ridiculously large claw dragged the pink dolphin out of its resting place, then moved it, in slow motion, across the clear box, I was completely unsure how to feel about it. One of my children, the birthday girl, was willing the dolphin to the hole, standing on the stool with unbridled joy in her eyes. Her little sister, the one who had been trying longer, stood dumb-founded and increasingly slumped with the movement of the claw. Then it fell right into the hole. From my left…enthusiastic jubilation. From my right…agonizing disappointment.
So there we were. Ecstatic birthday girl hugs heroic daddy and traumatized sister finds little consolation from mom. We tried the big claw again…and then it stopped working. Ingenuity took over and I took the happy one, and my husband took the sad one. I talked with my mature middle kid and we discussed how she would have felt if they had stood on opposite sides of that moving claw. She agreed to work with us to support her sister overcome the sadness. Dad took Little Sprout to a smaller claw game.
We found them, just as Little Sprout found her cheering legs. I could not be happier that I married a talented claw-driver. The small claw latched too, and out came the newest member of our stuffed animal family.
Delayed gratification did its work, and both girls were generally pleased with how events unfolded. We don’t go to places like this much, and I am glad our kids are not desensitized. I’m glad they felt joy and angst. I am glad they are not among the mindless game-players who sit for hours in the same place acquiring a pile of tickets that gets to be shin high. I am glad that while watching each other, they feel something still. The littlest will learn to cheer for the success of those around her, but what happened to her yesterday was part of the learning process. I hope someday I’ll capture her in a photo like the one below…genuinely excited for the achievements… that are not her own.