The Shell Game

During a slow moment during this past vacation, J decided to teach the boys a game. She put both hands behind her back and secretly hid a crumpled up napkin in one of them.

Then she held both hands out in front of her, fists closed. “Pick!”

C picked a hand, but it was the wrong one. She opened it up, saying “Nope. Pick again!”

He got it right with his second chance, of course.

After a few more games, he was ready to try it himself. He put his hands behind his back, put the napkin in one, and then held that one out to his momma with a shouted “pick!”

She picked that one, of course, and he said “You’re right! Hooray!”

She went over the concept again. Eventually, after much coaxing, he started holding both hands out. He always put the one with the napkin in it out farther, however. I guess he’s a pleaser.

N, on the other hand, did the opposite. After carefully putting a smaller scrap in one of his hands behind his back, he’d hold both fists out – with the empty one closer to you. If you tried to reach around and pick the right one, he’d move the other in your way, trying to get you to pick that one. He loved saying “Nope! Pick Again!”

It was a great little diversion, and they had a lot of fun with it. I mostly just watched and kibbitzed.

The next day, however, as we were walking, N lagged behind. I slowed down with him and tried to speed him up. Eventually, he squatted down on the pavement, and made fists out of his hands behind his back.

He straightened up, holding them out to me. “Pick!”

Figuring he’d picked up a stone along the way, I looked at the two hands. They were pretty evenly spaced, and neither had anything sticking out of it. I took a guess and picked one. He opened it up to reveal it was empty. “Nope! Pick again!”

I pointed to his other hand, and he slowly opened it up to reveal… nothing. “Nope!” he shouted, laughing, and ran off to catch up with his momma and brother.

Sheesh. I understand teaching them the shell game, but when did I become the mark?

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