The Claw Machine

12 Jul
July 12, 2012

I think it’s time to have a nice light hearted post about how fun parenting is (written in sarcastic tone).

The other day, we had a family day since Lance had off work.  We ran a couple of errands and went on the hunt for a big boy bike for Max.  We stopped off at The Greene Turtle in the shopping center because we were feeling ambitious and because we haven’t gone out in public to eat as a family since, I don’t know when.  We just don’t do it.  The reasons why we don’t do it are:

  • We don’t want to be ‘that’ family with the loud kids that seem uncontrollable.  We have great kids, but they are active and can be quite unpredictable in these situations.
  • It’s not usually enjoyable.  There’s a lot of supervising that needs to be done when places are not child proof and when they are not confined to a space, it is a free for all!  That usually means, I am watching one or two kids and then Lance is watching someone else, and we are not even near each other.  Defeats the purpose of going out.
  • The ages of our kids.  Going out is totally achievable, but with practice.  We don’t practice much, and our kids are just at a hard age to take out to eat.  They have a window of time that they behave, and then the ants get in their pants.  Lots of em.
  • It’s expensive for a family of five.
  • It’s tiring.
  • I never get to finish my food and I’m rushed.

It’s a lot of work.  Did I cover it all?

Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE going out to eat, but with three little ones, it’s a once in a while thing.

So getting back to the story, we went out to eat and as we entered the place, Max noticed the two game machines in the lobby area.  One was a claw machine, and one was a different machine that had toys and buttons.  They were $1 each and he asked about them the whole time we were there.  We said he could pick a game when we left and he doesn’t forget a thing.  Total elephant brain.

Well, we all know that claw machines are crap and they just take your money.  So I encouraged him to play the other game.  So, we put the money in, and the game didn’t do a thing, and then it said it was finished.  So needless to say, he didn’t enjoy himself.  The twins were super antsy and we were trying to get out of there, so I told Max that the game was over and that he lost and we’ll have to try again some other time.  He proceeded to flip out.  He wanted to play the claw machine and wasn’t letting go of it.  Since we had gotten them all some new toys at another store, I said no, and that we would try it another time.  The fit ensued with yelling and screaming. We definitely weren’t giving in now, so we just packed up and left.

Lance and I were trying to figure out if there were any claw machines on the way home because it was my fault that he didn’t get to play it in the first place.  We couldn’t think of any, so Lance told Max that he would make him one.  Lance is pretty handy, so I was really hoping he could pull it off because at this point, I was feeling pretty bad.

Lance made it right away and it turned out to be a big hit.  He made it out of rope, wood, zip ties and a metal hanger.  They played it over and over for a good 20 minutes and then he hasn’t asked about it since.  Sometimes you have to improvise and it’s as good as the real thing.  Obviously Max wasn’t concerned about the actual ‘prize’, he just liked the whole catching of the toy part of it, so he had more success this way anyways.  I don’t think I’ve ever gotten anything out of a damn claw machine in my entire life!

The lesson I learned, is to let the child do as they choose, because it’s not always about the outcome, it’s about the game.


The claw machine. It’s a manual device.


He got something! Yay!


He’s so happy with his prize.


Over and over and over again.


There were even double prizes! ;)

“Never fear spoiling children by making them too happy. Happiness is the atmosphere in which all good affections grow.”
- Thomas Bray

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8 replies
  1. kennedy says:

    super awesome!!

  2. zhenia says:

    funniest thing i’ve read in a while, and i’m glad you followed it up with pics. the first one is my favorite–the facial expressions are priceless. you guys were determined to satisfy this kid… mission accomplished. thanks for posting, i was able to get a good laugh on an otherwise melancholy day.

  3. Natalia says:

    This is great, Marisa. So clever! With such creative brains, who knows what you’ll come up with next?Can’t wait to find out.

    For the record, it is possible to master the claw. I had an uncle who figured it out and every time he’d take us out, he’d hook us a new toy. (The toys likely were worth less than a dollar. They probably still are.) I’ve never witnessed anyone else’s success with it though. Maybe he was magic. ;)

  4. Madeleine says:

    Great story. I love that it didn’t end with grimly surviving the temper tantrum–which is where it would end for most parents. I love that creativity brings about a happy ending for everybody.


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