I bit my tongue when Manchild’s face lit up after I told him we were going to the grocery store. I knew exactly what he was thinking: He needed to bring some quarters for the little toy and gumball machines that are waiting in ambush at the store’s exit.

And my tongue stayed bitten as Micah helped the boys get the quarters out of their “spending” envelopes (as opposed to their “saving” envelopes and “tithing” envelopes) for our trip to the store. I didn’t say a word about how I thought they should save up for something better. I didn’t mention that I thought it would be a waste of their 50 cents to get a tongue tattoo. I didn’t preach about predatory marketing or the cheapness of those little toys or anything like that. Those are lessons they will learn through experience, and better at age 5 than age 25.

We bought our groceries and then confronted the machines. They each put their quarters in, turned the dial, and walked proudly out of the store with their plastic globes in hand.

Once we were home, they begged me to help them with their tongue tattoos, which I did. Then I grabbed my camera and took a bunch of pictures so they could remember how they spent their money. (And laugh at themselves someday.)

A minute later, when the tongue tattoos had worn off, along with the magic, Manchild admitted his disappointment:”It didn’t really work. It just turned your tongue the color of the tattoo.”

I’m not going to say, “Lesson learned.” Not yet. I’m sure there will be plenty more purchases that don’t live up to expectations, but they’ll get there, eventually.

And, thankfully, this purchase was not only fairly harmless, but also kind of hilarious. I mean tongue tattoos? Really?

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