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Sadly, our two sons, ages 16 and 11, rarely fight over the newspaper.

Our older son sometimes reads high-school sports stories, and our younger son occasionally grabs the Sunday paper to use as a drop cloth when he manufactures slime in the kitchen. (If you aren't familiar with home-made slime, ask any fifth- grader or visit the craft aisle at Walmart.) But they rarely fight for possession of the paper the way they would for, say, the last banana Popsicle in the freezer.

Nevertheless, the boys were uncharacteristically both grabbing for the Times Free Press last Sunday morning, which I found oddly satisfying. They had discovered that some of the Black Friday sales were already being publicized, and they are both mad for deeply discounted electronics.

It was in this context that the 11-year-old rushed up to me breathlessly.

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Mark Kennedy

"Daddy, will you take me to Electronics Express, right now? Please. Please. Please," he said.

"It's probably not open yet," I said, stalling.

"Yes, it is. I've already looked online. It opened at 10 o'clock, like two hours ago," he said. "Please, can we go now?"

In his left hand was a circular folded to highlight a pair of refurbished Beats headphones for $69.95. He got some a couple of years ago for about three times that price, but they broke under constant use. If our boys ever get grabbed by space people, the aliens will think Beats headphones are some sort of creepy human exoskeleton.

Ever since our younger son got paid for about 10 hours of leaf work earlier this month, the money has been burning a hole in his pocket. That's OK. Hard-earned money spends the best, I think.

After a couple of days of leaf work, wearing a 30-pound gas-operated blower, our next-door-neighbor had remarked, "That little boy can do about anything a grown man can do, can't he?"

"Yep," I said. "Pretty much."

The compliment left our son beaming. He likes working hard and getting compliments about it. I can think of worse conceits.

Anyway, I felt compelled to make the frantic run to Electronics Express with him, even though I felt confident that the store probably had a good supply of Beats.

When we arrived, the salesman showed us a pair of refurbished red Beats behind the counter and also a white pair. I could tell my son wasn't a big fan of either color, but he knows a bargain when he sees one.

The salesman, sensing his indecision, offered to check out the back room. "Maybe we have another color back there," he said.

Minutes later, he emerged with a silver pair that my son liked very much. In the meantime, our 11-year-old had picked out a small Christmas gift for his brother, which he also paid for with his leaf money.

On the way home, we stopped at Academy Sports and bought an Adidas warm-up jacket that I will give him for Christmas after I have his number sewn on the back.

As we rode home in the car, he piled all the packages in his lap and couldn't contain a satisfied smile.

"Daddy, I got all this and didn't even touch my birthday money," he said.

"Yep, it feels good to work hard and then see the fruits of your labor, doesn't it?"

"Uh-huh," he nodded.

It's hard to know precisely when a person puts two and two together about the link between work and success.

For our younger son, I'm confident that I can circle Thanksgiving week 2017.

E-mail Mark Kennedy at mkennedy@timesfreepress.com.

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