Parenting Lessons from the Jersey Shore

One of my kids had a soccer game in Beachwood New Jersey on Saturday (he’s 15) so I took all three kids (another boy, 13 and my daughter, 5) on a detour to the shore and made a day out of it – and gave mom a break for the day.

KZ-Shore-4-2013After lunch the first stop was Seaside Heights, mainly to see how the recovery was going and to give the kids a look at the roller coaster that is still in the Atlantic Ocean. On the way from parking to the beach, we passed some carnies with booths set up to play games and win prizes.  One of the carnies spotted my 5 year old daughter and shouted, “Hey little girl, all kids win a prize today!”

That was the functional equivalent of “He had her at hello.”

We went to look at the roller coaster and boardwalk rebuilding effort and took some pictures. I was planning all along to stop and visit the carney on the way back to the car.

Indeed, as we passed the carney for the second time, my daughter said, “He said I could win a prize.” The game was one where you threw darts at balloons on a wall and there were tickets behind the burst balloons telling you what level of prize you won.

The carney absolutely rolled over me – the first dart was free then he just kept handing them to my little girl, as he was upselling us on the chance to win an ever bigger toy. He never asked me whether I wanted her to keep going and my boys looked on in astonishment.  They were fully expecting a 3-darts-and-out routine. My intention from the beginning was to let her play until she won a decent prize. 30 darts and $15 later, she was the proud owner of a pink and white stuffed whale named Beluga.

As we were walking away, my daughter beaming with her whale and my boys empty handed, my oldest asked, “What the heck did you do that for? You spent fifteen bucks on that?”

I replied, “Look how happy she is.” Neither boy complained at all.

Lessons learned:

  • When you look like you’re being taken advantage of, maybe you aren’t
  • It’s good to make the little people happy

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