I've mentioned before that Five likes to visit his school store. The problem is that it's only open one day a month, which means I have to write it in my date book or suffer his wrath for denying him the chance to purchase small plastic monsters and cool erasers. As much as I appreciate the constant fodder for "How I Failed Five Today," I can live without his withering looks, so I have accurately recorded all the remaining business hours.
The store was open last Wednesday, so I put three dollars in his lunch box and reminded him to go shopping. When he got off the bus--let me just interject to say it takes Five a solid minute to say good-bye to his homies before disembarking. Then he likes to stand at the curb, wave some hook-em horns and headbang like a rock god as the bus drives away, all while I yell, "Get in the van, Five!--I asked what he'd purchased that day.
"Oh, I got three monsters, but I traded them to some kid for two of his Skylanders."
"Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure" is a new video game. Players have figurines they place on a "Portal of Power" which activates the figurine in the game. It's a brilliant money-making scheme. Toys 'R Us can't keep them in stock.
"What?!" I said, "Who traded you two Skylanders, Five? They're worth ten dollars each!"
"Some kid Jose. He said he doesn't want them anymore. But he really wanted my monsters."
If I was Jose's mom, I would not be happy when he came home and showed me the three cheap monsters he traded for twenty dollars worth of video game figures.
"What grade is Jose in?"
"Is he in your class?"
"No, I see him at lunch."
"Okay. Tomorrow you're going to bring back the Skylanders. It's not a fair trade, Five."
"But he doesn't want them anymore, Mom!"
"That may be true, Five, but I'm pretty sure his parents don't want him trading his expensive toys for cheap school store monsters. You have to bring them tomorrow, and ask if he wants them back."
"Okay," he mumbled.
These situations throw me for a loop. Over the years, we've told the boys not to bet their friends. However, when you do (it's fairly inevitable), you can't squelch. A man's word is his honor. Likewise, if you trade your toy to your friend, you can't ask for it back in two days. Think before you act. If someone offers you a trade, be fair; don't take advantage. Do the right thing.
These concepts may be difficult to understand in second grade, so I didn't immediately conclude that Five was a scam artist. But I have my suspicions. The next day he came home and told me his friend Tony was going to give him some Skylanders for his early birthday present. His birthday is in September.
My little grifter is working the long con.