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The $27 Fish

Took my son to Toys R Us a few minutes ago.

The two of us are in Florida for a few days, visiting relatives. He’s mainly around adults, which can’t be all that fun. He also misses his older sister, who’s at camp. I took him to Marshall’s, but it was a crappy one with no cool jerseys. He yawned and moped a little. Bor-ing.

“You wanna go to Toys R Us?” I said.

He perked up.

I made no promises—just that I might buy him a little something. A car. An action figure. Something. Then we saw it—the $27 (reduced from $40) remote control piranha. He was immediately seduced. Light-up fins. Funky noises. Glow-in-the-dark everything. “Ooooh,” he said.

I said no. We’re comfortable, not rich. And $27 isn’t, in my mind, throw-away dough.

Then, however, we looked around and all the other toys sorta sucked. They were cheap plastic and boring and—were I 6—utterly useless. I started to think about my boy, and how good of a kid he is. He listens. He hugs. He empathizes. He brings us tremendous happiness, and rarely asks for anything.

“Question,” I asked, “why am I going to buy you the fish?”

“Because you love me?” he said.

“Not only that,” I replied.

“Because you really love me,” he said.

“More,” I said.

He paused.

“I’m buying it for you,” I said, “because you’re a good boy, and you think about other people first, and sometimes it’s nice to treat someone who treats others so well …”

He’s now playing with the toy—happily.

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