After the cupcakes at school, the trip to the chocolate factory, sneaking off with her aunt to get her ears pierced (don’t get me started), and having a generally awesome sixth birthday, Ruby wanted to cap off the day with a dinner at Denny’s. You can tell we are good parents, because Denny’s is about the fanciest place Ruby can conceive of at this point.
One of the highlights of going to Denny’s, aside from the menus with the pictures of the food printed right on them, is the toy grabbing claw machine game. This is actually a terrible name for this game, since that is what happens the least amount of times, so let us instead call it the toy dropping dollar eating claw machine game. This is a very similar game to one I used to want to play as a child, but back then it was called the toy dropping quarter eating claw machine game. But it has since been upgraded in its ability to eat money. This is the 21st century after all.
We don’t often play the TDDECMG, or “Teh Deck Mug,” because one of our parental imperatives is obviously to keep as many of our dollars in our pockets as possible, but once in a great while we give in and let the kids give it a whirl. And a sixth birthday seemed like it was one of those times.
Ruby and her mother were already mid-game when I walked over to them at the Teh Deck Mug, and there had been an exciting development. Ruby had managed to pick up a small pillow pet knockoff, and then drop it a few inches from where it had once been. Not in the hole that would liberate this fluffy product of foreign child labor from its plastic prison, but on top of a well-wedged Captain America doll. This mean that we were very, very close, and required more dollars.
Now, if you have ever played the Teh Deck Mug before, you know that, unless you are my brother, you very rarely get a toy out of it (I don’t know how he manages to get one every time…). Therefore, any chance, however slight, of “winning” the game had to be pursued. Another dollar, another grab, and the toy edged ever closer to the hole, but still dropping every time, just shy of its goal. And then, on dollar number five, it happened. Ruby got the cuddle cow, or whatever it is called, out of the machine. And she had done it all by herself; a first for her. There was jumping and yelling and cheering and clapping, and then, in the midst of the celebration, there was her 2 year old brother Edward, demanding that he also win a prize out of the financial booby trap, lest he Hulk out and destroy the Denny’s.
Well, we only had one dollar left, and I was not optimistic about our chances, but we put the dollar in anyway. Edward took his spot at the controls, delighted to be moving the joystick around and wanting to smash the button that dropped the claw as many times as possible. I tried to help him maneuver the thing as best as I could, but the only thing even remotely loose in the machine now was a Harley Davidson hat, sitting in the back corner. I stealthily moved the claw to that area, and then the button was smashed. The claw was descending. And sonnuvagun, the claw picked up that dang hat and dropped it into the hole on the first try.
It was a birthday miracle. Both children had gotten a prize from the beloved Teh Deck Mug, and Edward’s day-long birthday jealousy was finally started to subside. I went home with two happy children, and the knowledge that someone really was looking out for me up there. And that was present enough for me.