I have seen truly horrible things done to children. I have seen them dressed in onesies with Zach Galifianakis' face on them. I have seen them brought by their parents to an audition for a sitcom I wrote. I once even saw one biking, all by himself, to his friend's house. But I have no problem with the idea of betting on children. After all, the whole point of gambling is to make boring stuff you have to watch more interesting, like the Super Bowl or quarterly earnings reports.
So when I found out ABC has a new show on Saturday nights called Bet on Your Baby, I wanted to get my 3-year-old son involved. The show had already wrapped, but the producers gathered their staff and the show's host, comedian Melissa Peterman, to run some games with Laszlo and my lovely wife Cassandra. On the show, one parent goes with her toddler to the Babydome, which looks exactly like a playroom except it's called the Babydome. The other parent has to gamble on whether or not the kid will pull off some challenge. Instead of competing for a $50,000 college scholarship, as they do on the show, Cassandra and I would be competing to see who got to start the fight on the car ride home.
For the first game, Laszlo had to sit alone, hold on to a large ball and not let go for one minute while he was plied with distractions. As Cassandra explained the game to him, I gambled that he'd easily last the minute. In fact, I wanted someone to go double or nothing with me on two minutes. I may have a gambling-on-my-child problem.
As soon as the producer put a giant plate of Oreos on the table in front of Laszlo, Cassandra said, "Oh my God, I feel horrible about this." I did not. It didn't seem nearly as bad as other things we've done to him, like naming him Laszlo. About 20 seconds in, Laszlo lifted one hand off the ball, leaned toward the table and fixed the rubber corner guard that had fallen off. Then he went back to sitting patiently. "It was easy," he said when the minute was up. I gave him an Oreo and felt way worse about that.
For the second game, Laszlo had to stack blocks as high as he could. Cassandra told Peterman that I should be the one to help him while she stayed behind to bet. "He doesn't care about me as much because he sees me more," she said. "And I'm more of a disciplinarian."
"So what I'm hearing is that he likes Joel more?" Peterman asked.
"All of America likes me more," I explained. Listening to our banter, I could tell the producers were bummed they didn't cast us for the real show.
Cassandra bet that Laszlo could build a stack at least 10 blocks high. Then the producers switched the blocks with Oreos. Again, I wasn't worried. This is the advantage of being a snob who has already given his child crème brûlée. Laszlo piled 12 Oreos and didn't even ask for one afterward.
For our final game, Laszlo had to kick a ball as many times as he could into a goal. Cassandra sent me out while she debated whether Laszlo could kick four goals in 90 seconds. Laszlo is not a sporty kid, and he does not have a sporty dad. That's how I knew he would hold the ball in the first game--he wouldn't know what else to do with it.