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Keep Your Stinking Balloons Away From My Kids (And Me)

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A friend of mine recently took her 4-year-old son to the dentist. It was just a routine cleaning, but no one likes to go to the dentist, least of all 4-year-old boys. But it went great. There was a television on the ceiling and they let him choose which cartoon he wanted to watch. They joked with him, worked quickly, and got him out of there in no time. At the end of his visit, though, he was given a balloon.

A balloon that proceeded to burst within 3 minutes. At which point the poor boy experienced anguish like nothing you’ve ever seen. “My balloon!” he wailed. “MY. BUH. LOOOON!”

We’ve all been there. OK, I’ve been there. There’s a grocery story in DC that offers free balloons to kids while you shop. I’ve gotten them for my kids and then immediately regretted it. The lack of sleep is my only excuse for why I keep doing it again and again. The kids then use the balloons to hit each other and shove in my face while I’m trying to get some avocados. Once, my 2-year-old lost her balloon and as she watched it float up, up, up to the very high ceilings, she acted like her dog had died. It was ridiculous. She was inconsolable. Only after vascillating between threats and consolation did she finally calm down. But then when we got to the car, it was more drama as the older sister still retained her balloon and taunted the younger one.

Somehow the singular balloon is even worse than multiple balloons. My single, childless friend came over to watch a Broncos game and brought the girls one balloon. I guess he thought they could share it. The fights began within about 15 minutes and lasted for a month. I’m not joking. This stupid mylar balloon — in the shape of Frosty — had helium that lasted for a month. I announced at one point that I was going to get rid of it and the girls proceeded to hide it under their bed. They loved that balloon. It floated. It was in the shape of Frosty. It was from their dear friend. By the time I hacked it to pieces, I think I’d had a mental break. I took far too much delight in puncturing each stupid cavity filled with helium. I think the balloon might have had an evil spirit in it or something.

Also, word to the wise about mylar balloons. They take flight alarmingly well. Another friend purchased a silly Hello Kitty balloon for her child and they got in the car to go home. The daughter opened the window and the balloon was sucked out so quickly that she couldn’t stop it. Yes, of course the daughter proceeded to cry.

I know I’m not alone in loathing balloons. Thailand bans balloons on the metros there. And I have a very smart and capable friend who has survived difficult circumstances in her life, including being raised by a single mother. But she has legit PTSD at the sound of balloons popping. And it’s not because Maxwell the Clown once copped a feel at her birthday party while handing her a balloon or anything. It’s simply because she had all these bad memories as a child of balloons that popped.

Myself? I just hate the feel, the smell of the balloon. I hate the thought that someone put the smelly, latexy balloon into their mouth and then blew it up and then handed it to my kid. I swear I’m not weird about most things but balloons? I can’t stand them.

Image via ThinkStock.