Red Balloons

There’s something about red balloons.  A big bouquet of colorful balloons is pretty amazing, especially from the point of view of a toddler.  But red, sigh.  I’ve noticed that several of Sparkle Girl’s cartoons have episodes that feature red balloons.  They carry hapless critters away to magical adventures. The other colors are fun, but red contains all the promise contained in an over active imagination.

I have a clear memory from when I was about my girlie’s age. My parents had gone out and left my sister and me at some sort of organized babysitting event at a child care center.  Since we lived on a military base in Japan, it was probably set up for the event.  We were given balloons on our way out the door.  Mine was red.

When my parents came to pick us up they were with friends of theirs. Somewhere on the way to the car that precious balloon escaped my grasp.  I have a very clear mental image of watching that red balloon float up and up, higher into the starry night.

My parents’ friend Jim was (and is) a tall, tall man.  I turned and asked him to get it for me.  From my 3 year old perspective a man well over 6 feet tall should have easily been able to reach up into the stars and grab that string for me.  I found it inconceivable that he couldn’t do it.  I remember the adults all chuckling at the request.  I think they were even reaching up as if they could get that red balloon.  It seemed impossible to me that it was beyond his giant reach.

It was my first realization that adults are fallible.   Prior to that I had no idea that there were actually things adults couldn’t do.  That they weren’t super-human.

It’s hard to keep this perspective in mind with my own child.  She sees her father and me as giant people with amazing strength and the ability to do or fix anything.  Same goes for the kids at our Co-Op preschool.  When we can’t do something it’s not just an inconvenience for them.  They really think we can put the toothpaste back in the tube, fix the most broken of toys, make bananas appear out of thin air, re-inflate a popped balloon.  A well stocked diaper bag packed with an adult’s experience and forethought seems much like Mary Poppins’ magic carpet bag.  Our inability to satisfy the most extravagant request puts a crack in their world view.  They rely on our super-humanness as reassurance that they are safe.  That makes it extremely important that we are as kind and patient as possible in these circumstances.

Sparkle Girl and I were at a birthday party this past Saturday.  Balloons!  Balloons!   Epic fun. Although the one she brought home was orange.  When I was dropping her off yesterday at the same location as the party she grinned a giant grin and shouted “BAWOONS!”  I had to tell her that they were all gone.  I’m sure she found that completely impossible.

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