May 11, 2008, 4:03 AM |

I found myself recently in the lobby of a car dealership waiting to hear very bad news. We were buying a minivan... an endeavor which holds its own horrors for any male (my five kids just won't fit in that damn ferrari, no matter how I stack them).

But my dear wife had gone car shopping without me and I was attempting to clear up the mess. Not that she had done a completely bad job mind you, and it was her after all which was driving the old minivan, which was far too old, and far too frail to still be on the road. But when I read the terms of the shiny new minivan she brought home one day, I just had to pay the dealership a visit and let them know how much I appreciated the honesty and integrity they showed in dealing with my wife.

I would have gone armed to the teeth to show this appreciation, but I want my kids to grow up with a father around.

We actually made it a family outing, early saturday morning. I like to do such business on a saturday morning, making their bean counters get out of bed and down to the dealership to deal with me. It puts them in the same mood i was in, and I figured this was only fair.

As we waited (and waited) my three year old son discovered their vending machines and candy dispensers. Turns out if you turned one of the candy machine knobs extra hard, free candy fell out. This delighted my three year old who obviously did not see anything wrong in the transaction. He had a field day, turning the knob and being rewarded for his efforts.

As I laughed, I was vaguely struck with a hint of shame. My three year old wouldn't understand any lectures on honesty, but my older boys were probably looking to ol' dad to see if what our young son was doing was ok. When the sharks started circling the candy dispenser, I thought of saying something and calling a halt to the free flow of confectionary bliss...

But then there was the dealership making me wait... on a Saturday morning... with all my kids... and the ink barely dry on a less-than-desirable deal...

Let the good times roll!!!

Perhaps I can look back and see where I did my kids no favor in letting them glutton themselves on not-intended-to-be-free candy, perhaps we could even call it a moral blunder. After all, it could have been a good teaching opportunity, to extoll the virtue of honesty, and paying for what you get.

Devil on shoulder +1, Angel on shoulder 0.

Reminds me of how grandmasters economize their moves, it is amazing to watch. Every move full of purpose, every move furthering their own initiative, or perhaps thwarting their opponent's. They simply don't waste moves, they simply don't let a teaching opportunity pass them by.



Seeing how Mr Keene punished Mr Clarke for inaccurate play, I shudder to think what he would have done to my kids for stealing candy. There is no room for mercy in chess.