Parenting Rant: Balloons

A post by Indiana . . . 

Children love balloons, and despite a world-wide helium shortage, my children keep getting offered balloons. It's infuriating, honestly. 

At first, I'd give in. It's just a balloon, and in some cases, if the balloon wasn't free it was at least a way to make my children happy for under $2.00 without buying them yet another piece of plastic junk that I end up stepping on long after the kids have gone to bed, thus waking them with my howls of underfoot pain. 

It's just a balloon: those are four words that I shall never utter again. 

At first glance, it appears to simply be a bag of gas, but let me tell you, friends, it's a perfect analogy for life and death and love and torture all in one. 

Whoever offers pre-school children balloons, clearly does not have children of their own. And here's how I know.

Best case scenario: in the span of a few scant hours a child with a balloon will experience wonder, joy, and curiosity, followed by disappointment and loss as the balloon slowly exhales its reserve of helium. 

A balloon, like a baby animal, is a delicate thing. A thing that delights a child at first sight and even more when entrusted to their chubby, energetic hands. But like a baby animal, held too loose and it's gone forever; held too tight and you've caused its premature demise. 

INDIANA: Jude, how do you feel about balloons? 
JUDE: I like them. 
I: What do you like about them? 
J: If you have a lot of them, you can float away. 
I: Caroline, do you like balloons? 
C: Yeah.
I: What do you like about them? 
C: I like to hold them. 
I: How do you feel when your balloon flies away?
C: Sad.
I: Jude, how do you feel when your balloon pops? 
C: Sad.
I: How do y'all feel when your balloon eventually stops floating?
J&C: Sad. 

From the mouths of babes, y'all. 

And more often than not, the balloon does not get to live its last few hours floating lazily around our home. Nope. My kids are typically the owners of balloons with a rebellious streak-- balloons that break free in a daring escape or spontaneously combust. I mean, have you tried comforting a toddler who is screaming at the sky, tears running rivers down her face, in the middle of a grocery store parking lot just howling, "WHY? Whhyyyyyyy?! COME BACK!!!" Because I have. More than once. And it is no fun. The grocery store with three children under age four is already a harrowing experience without the extra added balloon drama, am I right? 

I try to be a fun mom. I really do. But I'm so over balloons, what with their "I could pop at any moment, but I'll probably pop right behind your head when you're driving, causing you to scream" thing they have going on. I'm tired of finding their carcasses in the corners of my home. And I'm tried of confronting the heartache of a love relinquished too soon when one flies away or pops. So if you see me at the grocery store or bank, strongly rebuffing what seems like an innocuous token-- it's just a free balloon-- please don't insist that my children take one. It's never JUST a balloon.

End rant.