Last week, my elderly friend gave each of my children two crisp one dollar bills for Christmas. The money started burning holes in the beneficiaries' pockets the minute that the envelopes were opened, so I decided to take the eager shoppers to the local Mennonite thrift store before anyone got hurt.
Before stepping foot on the hallowed ground, I tried to persuade the newly rich to put their bills into my purse for safekeeping. I didn't get any takers.
"Then at least put your money in your pockets," I suggested.
Two children dutifully shoved their bills into their pants. The child wearing a pink dress stuck out her tongue at me. A few minutes later, a loud wail reverberated from the toy aisle.
"I can't find my money!" cried a distraught customer.
I shrugged my shoulders. "That's very sad," I said.
The customer squinted her eyes and peered suspiciously at the other shoppers.
"I think that lady stole it," she said, pointing to a woman wearing a brown floor-length dress and apron.
Cortlen spent his two dollars on a treasure that you can't find anywhere else, except for the bottom of a Happy Meal bag.
"Excellent choice," I said, examining the wind-up Ronald McDonald figurine.
Cortlen beamed..that is, until he saw Kellen's selection.
"I want that," said Cortlen, pointing at the remote controlled robot dog. "Let's trade."
Kellen, who hates confrontation and will do anything to please his siblings, would have handed the dog over to his brother if I hadn't intervened.
"Oh no you don't," I said, pulling Cortlen away from the dog.
Cortlen screamed the entire way home.
The sore loser cried even harder after I put fresh batteries in the dog and he learned that in addition to scooting clumsily along the floor, the animal could also bark.
"I want that dog so baaaaad!" he cried.
Kellen had seen his brother suffer enough. He asked me if he could give Cortlen the dog.
"Why don't we ask the dog who HE wants to live with?" I suggested.
Cortlen clapped his hands with excitement.
With the push of a button, the dog let out a loud bark.
"He picked Kellen," I translated.
Cortlen threw himself off the couch...but not before I snapped a picture.