Lesson did not turn out as planned
God bless the teachers. I’ve always believed this mostly because I know I don’t have the patience to educate children, which is blatantly evident every time I try to show my own offspring something new. I get overly frustrated whenever they cop an attitude and toss out that one line they love to repeat: “I already know that.” “Oh really? You already knew that and yet you received a ‘D’ on this quiz? I find that interesting and disappointing.” My children are so worldly and knowledgeable that they can’t be bothered with the finer details like correct answers. I never give up with my attempts at life lessons. When my son asked what the big deal was with scratch-off lottery tickets, I told him about my own experiences.First, I reminisced about when we lived in Washington State. They have all kinds of ways to hand over your money for a miniscule chance to win big. One of those ways was pull tabs. I worked in two places, the China Clipper and the Rib Eye, which sold pull tabs. I witnessed people coming in and buying these little stubs that cost anywhere from 25 cents to a dollar a piece. They’d rip the tab and see if three in a row matched, which correlated with a particular payout. We’d mark off each container as the monetary wins were paid so you knew what prizes were left in the bin. I saw one guy blow about 200 bucks, win 500, and then blow all of that trying to win 800. It was sad and depressing. I told my son this and he was fascinated, but he still wasn’t satisfied. He wanted to know about scratch-off tickets. “Fine,” I said. “I’ll show you how it works.” We were in Winn Dixie. I had a couple of bucks so I bought 2 different tickets. We took them out to the car and I grabbed the first one, a Bronze Bucks. “Okay. Here are the numbers that are our numbers: 8 and 6. Now, the winning numbers have to match our number for us to win any money, right?” I began scratching: eight…six….eight…six. “Mom! Those are our numbers!” We won 25 dollars. Great! This was not how the lesson was supposed to go. “Wait a second. Let’s try the other one.” We scratched off the Sand Dollars ticket’s symbols and came up with no win at all. “Now that’s how it really happens, son.” “Yeah, mom, but we spent 2 bucks and won 25. That is making money!” Okay. I had to prove to him how the world works. I went inside and bought five more Bronze Bucks and brought them to the car. “Here we go. Let me show you how to lose.” Finally, as I expected, there was not a single win on any of the tickets. This was my usual luck and all felt right with the world once again. “Do you understand now? You can spend money all day long and maybe win a small amount, but over time, you’ll be out more money than you put in.” He looked unconvinced. I can tell he’s probably going to hand over all his life’s savings to the first snake oil salesman he meets, but he may not have much in his pockets to give away if he plans on a future in scratch-offs. I guess I’ll keep working with him on his grades. These life lessons keep getting harder.