This morning I asked my son if he knows who's playing in the Super Bowl (I don't follow football, but he was watching ESPN while eating breakfast, and I know that we always have a Super Bowl party sometime in early February) and he told me it was the Bears vs. the Colts. I'm not even sure why I asked, since I really couldn't care less.
He mentioned something while I was driving him to school this morning that I had forgotten about...
A couple years ago, when my son was 11 years old, there was a football pool at my work, run by the guys next door. Every week, they'd print me off a sheet, and try to get me to get involved in the pool. It cost $5, and the person who picked the most winning teams would take all the money, and any ties would be decided by the guess of the final score of Monday night's game added together. I got tired of them hounding me, so one week I had my husband fill out his picks and I put my money in.
Our son saw him picking teams, and wanted to pick too. The next week my husband advised me to quit wasting my five dollars, so my son asked if he could have the sheet of teams I had brought home. The next day, he handed me the sheet with his picks circled in crayon, and he told me he wanted to be included. I told him it was gambling, but he said, "I just want to see how I would do IF I was in the pool." I figured this was harmless, so I said I'd ask. They agreed, and I wrote the words FOR FUN on his sheet and turned it in. They gave me a special copy of everyone's picks, with his picks hand-written beside the legitimate picks.
You know what?? That little booger came in the top three every single week. At age 11! So one week, I decided to put in $5 for fun. Guess who won the $80? Of course I did. This threw me into a moral dilemma. His picks, my five bucks. Do I tell my son he won money gambling? Would this make him addicted to gambling? I didn't feel right with it, but didn't know what to do. I actually remember thinking, what would the church have me do? What kind of a mother wins a football pool on her son's picks, and then keeps the money? What kind of a mother actually lets her 11 year old make picks in the first place???
I kept the knowledge of his win secret, but I took him shopping soon after and bought him the expensive shoes he really wanted. The next week, I didn't put in $5, but his picks would have won. And of course, the week after, I gave in to temptation and put in another $5. His picks were second. I took that as a sign, and the week after, I didn't put any money on. Sadly enough, he would have won again. So I put money down again from then on for the rest of the season, and always it was the same, he'd come in the top three. One week, we won again, and again I kept it secret. Eventually he found out somehow. Which is what he brought up this morning ~ he figures I still owe him 80 bucks.
So now I figure, if he's going to be a gambling man, then we'd better teach him how to gamble smart. Not that he really needs to be taught, obviously. He does just fine on his own.