Last week the family and I were doing a little grocery shopping. When we got to the check out, my little Buzzsaw noticed a father purchasing some balloons for his little girl. Buzzsaw was intently watching as the clerk was inflating them and handing them to the father who then handed them to the little girl. I don’t remember the exact words he used, and to be honest, they probably weren’t totally coherent. He is only three after all. But Buzzsaw was talking about the balloons and it was pretty clear, even if his speech wasn’t, that he really wanted a balloon.
I really wanted to get him a balloon. I really didn’t want to be the mother who gives her child whatever they want. Horrible precipice to be standing over, but I am proud of how I handled myself. I squatted down next to him and explained that he couldn’t have a balloon this time because he hadn’t behaved very well in the grocery story. He had been fussy and hadn’t listened to mommy and daddy very well.
“I was bad.”
” You weren’t bad, but you didn’t behave very well. But next time we come to the store, if you can listen to us and not cry and argue, maybe we can get you a balloon then, okay?”
“Yeah, I can’t have a balloon. I was bad.”
“No, you can’t have a balloon this time, maybe next time if you don’t act up you can get a balloon.”
“Yeah, I can’t have a balloon.”
All of this is said, or something pretty close to this, with Buzzsaw still staring at the the store clerk with the balloons. His face got a little red and a slight wateriness was glistening in his eyes. He kept his composure. My heart broke.
On Tuesday’s my restaurant sometimes schedules community fundraisers. Various local organizations will hold some sort of fundraising event and the restaurant donates 15% of that days sales. This past Tuesday the youth athletic league holding their fundraiser decorated the restaurant with green, orange, and white star shaped balloons. These were left behind at the end of the evening and I got permission to take some home for my son. I left them in the car and he saw them the next morning when we left for daycare. I told Buzzsaw that he could have them when we got home that afternoon.
We got home later that day and I gave him the three balloons tied to a wooden dowel and told him to be careful that they didn’t come off and fly away. My husband Bdawg came home soon after and found Buzzsaw happily running around the yard with his green, orange, and white balloons. Bdawg went inside and I stayed with Buzzsaw. I was talking with my dad on the phone while I watched Buzzsaw play in the yard. A storm was coming thru so the wind had picked up a bit and it was becoming increasingly overcast.
I looked up to see Buzzsaw walking up the little hill on the island in our front yard. And I watched as the balloons took off in the wind and floated up and around the trees. I swear it was in friggin slow motion! No offense to my dad, but in hindsight I wish I had been doing my usual picture taking with my phone instead of actually talking on it. I can still see my Buzzsaw standing on this hill, slightly turned away from me, watching his balloons float away. What a picture that would have made!
And then like a thunderclap cracking in the air, my son reacted. That ear piercing scream that little children get when something has ripped apart their little fairy tale lives. He turned in my direction and his little face was scrunched up and red, his eyes clamped shut and his mouth wide open as he full on bawled his little heart out. I walked over to him, still on the phone, and hugged him and tried to sooth him. He was crying so hard he had the hiccup speech going. All I could do was tell him that I was sorry.
I got off of the phone and carried him inside. Daddy took over while I got ready so that we could go out to eat. It took almost 30 minutes for little Buzzsaw to finally calm down. Again, I was proud of us for not trying to fix it by telling him we would get him some more balloons. It wasn’t easy, but we refrained from that path.
Today I took Buzzsaw to the playground after daycare. I called Bdawg to see if he wanted to meet us there before going home. He was at the store and about to head into the party store . . . to buy a couple of balloons. Old softy. But it was cool because we hadn’t promised him any so this would be a nice surprise. He got to the playground and snuck them in the car before coming over and saying hello.
Bdawg brought up the balloons to Buzzsaw, talking about how they flew away.
Buzzsaw: “Yeah, they flew high in the trees daddy.”
Me: ” They did fly up didn’t they?”
Buzzsaw: ” They flew high up in the sky.”
Bdawg: “Where did they go in the sky Buzz?”
A short pause before Buzzsaw said, “They went to Mars.”
I don’t know if this makes us evil parents or not, but when we got to the car and showed him the “new” balloons, we told him the balloons came all the way back from Mars to be with him. And the trip turned the white one to silver and the orange one to red. But the green one stayed the same. He was very happy. Maybe we aren’t evil, just a little twisted.
The green one got popped just before bedtime. The red and silver ones are on Buzzsaw’s dresser floating among the stuffed animals as Buzzsaw dreams of balloons traveling from Mars. . .