The Old Smash n' Grab

Jude is completely frustrated and tears are glistening in his eyes.

"Mommy, that BOX won't GIVE me my TOY!" he wails.

"We gave it all our money and it STILL didn't give us a toy," James adds, angrily.

"I told you boys not to waste your money on that claw machine," Daddy chides.

"But I gave that box my money!" Jude whimpers. "And now I don't have any left!"

"Claw machines weren't made to give away toys," Daddy explains. "They were made to make money."

"You mean, they could take our money and not give us ANYTHING in return?" James asks, dumbfounded.

"Yep," I say. "In fact, I have never won a toy from a claw machine in my entire life."

"Whoooooooaaaa," James breathes. Since Mommy is about as old as the dinosaurs, not winning a toy for that long is practically unimaginable.

"But it's not fair!" Jude says.

"I have an idea!" Jewel pipes up, having listened to her brothers' tale of woe very quietly. She, of course, still has money in her pocket.


"We could give the claw machine my fifty cents and then...." she looks around at us excitedly, "SMASH THE GLASS AND TAKE OUR TOY!"

She's not joking. And the boys? Oh, they're nodding eagerly. Yeah, yeah, let's smash that darn claw machine and get our toys! We'll show them, mwah-ha-ha!!

They're revving each other up, like football players before the big game.

"" Daddy intervenes before the marauding band sets off. "Did you say 'smash the glass'?"

Jewel catches the tone in his voice and does a flip-flop worthy of a presidential candidate, "I didn't say I would do that. I just said it was an idea."

Like most boys, James is reluctant to abandon a chance at wreaking destruction. "But Dad," he says, "we're gonna pay for the toy!"

"And the glass?"

The kids glance around at each other. Oh. Ooooops.

Suddenly, they all burst into laughter. Yeah, that was stupid! Smash the glass? HA HA HA. Who would ever do something like that?

I can empathize with them, though. The Claw Machine exists for us grown-ups, too. We pay lots of money and will probably never get anything in return.

We call it The IRS.