Because Sundays are supposed to be a day of rest, we took a rest from responsible parenting and taught Alex the fundamentals of gambling. I blame our moral downfall on the influence of his soon-to-be college graduate Uncle Greg--he started it. On Saturday, Uncle Greg played some sort of game with Alex on the trampoline that involved throwing huge rubber balls at Alex, and if didn't fall he earned a quarter. Well apparently Alex is pretty good and earned 4 bucks. On a double or nothin' bet, he doubled it to 8 bucks--I have a feeling Uncle Greg was throwing hard and aiming for the knees on that one.
So yesterday, Alex was trying to collect the remaining 4 bucks from his cash-poor Uncle, and Jeremy says, "Wanna try double or nothing again?" And then the real gambling began. Alex had to spell a word correctly to double his cash--but we let him decide how risky he wanted to be. He didn't have to bet the whole 8 bucks---he could bet either the whole 8 or the 4 that Greg still owed him. What freaked him out was not the risk, he wanted to go for all the moolah. It was not knowing the word before making the bet. Then came the lecture on how the payoffs are determined by the levels of risk and how most of the time when you're gambling, you don't have all the info beforehand. Important life lessons, no?
We all tried over and over again to encourage him to take the safe way out-- choose to bet only the 4 dollars, that way if he misspells the word, he would still have 4 dollars. He kept asking what "grade" the word was. i.e. a second, third, or fourth grade word, because he was confident in his ability to spell as long as it was a reasonable word. He finally agreed to the full double or nothing bet of 8 bucks, but only if I got to judge beforehand that the word was at least something in the realm of possibility for him to spell--he has learned not to trust Dad's judgement too much.
(We also made him sign his name on a whiteboard next to the "$8 bet" because we knew he was going to FREAK OUT if he lost and start trying to back out of the bet--he LOVES his money and we knew he wouldn't be parting with it calmly.)
The bet was on. The rules were that he could use the whiteboard to write it and take as long as he wanted--but once he said "done," he couldn't change it. (This was seriously as tense as the National Spelling Bee they broadcast on TV--except Alex didn't ask for the origins and alternate definitions of the word to buy time.) The word was "horrible" and he wrote it out perfectly without hesitating in about three seconds flat. We were all shocked and kind of started laughing while we waited for him to decide if he was done--which made him nervous and he started doubting that he had spelled it right. So we had to intervene really quickly and give him the "believe in yourself" lecture--"don't worry about what other people think--go with your gut instinct." So he decided not to change it and he won his extra $8.
But once he tasted sweet victory and how easy he made that extra $8, he was hooked. He was convinced he wanted to make a $16 double or nothing bet, but Jeremy assured him the word would be at least a fourth grade word if he was going to shell out $32 bucks. So he declined, happily dreaming of all the candy he could buy with his $16. But Alex wanted to try to spell the word, just to see if he could've gotten it. The word was "interruption" and he got it all right except he ended it with "sion." I think we were all relieved he hadn't taken that bet. And he did try to spend the entire $16 on candy at Sam's this morning while we were out shopping--nothing like a bulk box of 30 packages of M&M's for $10--"Mom, I would still have $6 left!" Veto. He settled on buying himself and Maddie some cherry Icee's at the food counter on the way out. At least he's a generous little gambling man.
Oh, and I think some Olympic gamblers out there were either very happy or very sad last night after the US men's team kicked the Frenchies tails in the swimming relay. It's always exciting when the underdogs are victorious--except that I was a bit worried Phelps might bust a vein with all that muscle flexing and screaming.