At the grocery store where we shop once or twice every week, they always have helium balloons at the cashiers, and any kids going through get offered one. Which leads to a parenting-strategies dilemma and a funny story.
What Would a Good Parent Do? · The baby (well, 15-month-old almost-toddler) totally loves the balloons; pulling them down and letting them up, but most of all squeezing them with both arms and all ten fingers. She has sharp little fingernails and it’s almost inevitable one’s going to go off in her face. In fact, when she puts the squeeze on, her eight-year-old brother shrieks and hides his face, he can’t bear to watch.
When, inevitably, the balloon pops, she’s totally going to have major hysterics (we hope no actual personality damage). But she enjoys it so much, and eventually she has to learn that Shit Happens. So for now, we’re letting her molest the balloons. Would a Good Parent protect her from the predictable explosion?
Blues Balloons · Quite a few years back, when Lauren was out of town, I and the boy, then a teeny tiny toddler, went off to the Burnaby Blues Festival, and we had a good time, except for The Balloon Incident.
What happened was, he got a helium balloon, and I knew he’d lose it so I wanted to tie it to his overalls, and he would Rather Die Under Torture than have the balloon tied to him. I tried reason (hah!), I tried brute force (he resorted to extreme squirming) and eventually I got tired of abusing a three-year-old in front of thousands of strangers and let him just hold it. Thirty seconds later, it was drifting up into the blues-laden blue sky.
Thirty-one seconds later, the loud electric blues were drowned out by the louder toddler meltdown. There are times when you gotta tough it out. Then this nice matronly woman bounced up and said “Did that adorable little boy lose his balloon? Here, he can have mine!” She shrank away horrified as my eyes with terrible clarity told her to implode and die; then decided that I couldn’t have meant what my eyes said, and anyway if that boy had a psychopathic Dad maybe she could brighten his world a bit with a nice purple helium balloon.
Fortunately, at that point he also had stranger anxiety and shrank away from the Strange Person With a Balloon, offering a first-rate theatrical shudder no less; doubtless she was moments from diagnosing child abuse and calling 911, so I steered the boy behind the nearest thicket of hippies, bringing us in sight of an ice-cream stand, and the problem was over.