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9to5to9: How I learned to conquer the balloon

Submitted by on Monday, 18 August 2008 No Comment

There’s nothing the guys like better than having a lot of something.

That’s why Thomas trains and track land-mine the house. We can’t play with one set — we have to build three.

And that’s why, when I pick them up every day, Big Guy awards me not a single “”magic white seed,”" but fistful. I have no idea what, if anything, these seeds actually produce. A beanstalk leading to a gold-laden ogre would be nice, though.

Their “”more is more”" obsession also explains our current balloon craze. The kick provides low-cost amusement — and lots of it — for hours at a time, but it forced me to conquer embarrassing shortcomings.

It started a few weeks ago, when the guys stumbled on a cache in my crate of leftover party goods in the garage. “”Let’s make balloons!”"

I started sweating and not because it was 300 degrees in the uninsulated garage. Here I was face to face with a parenting demon and two sweet, pleading faces who think Mommy can do anything. Truth is I can do a lot, but I couldn’t tie balloons.

I’d skated through life foisting it on others under the guise of not wanting to pop them with my talon-like nails. I had to admit the truth the day of Big Guy’s third birthday. Luckily one of my sisters was around to bail me out. She tried to teach me, but it didn’t stick.

I swallowed hard and told the guys I’d try. It was so hot in the garage I think I would have promised them a pony if it would get me back in the air conditioning.

I struggled to remember what my sister had told me. I tried to forget the part where she said, “”It’s easy”" because that made me want to kill her retroactively and rage wasn’t going to get me out of this mess.

Two fingers. Wrap. Poke. Pull. Simple!

I wrapped. My fingers turned blue, so I rewrapped.

I poked. The balloon popped, so I trimmed my talons.

I pulled. The balloon sputtered toward the ceiling, which the guys thought was hilarious.

After an excruciating 20 minutes, I got it. Since I was on a roll, I did a dozen. It’s important to reinforce new skills, you know.

The guys drew faces on them. We tied ribbons to them and let them chase us around the house. We played balloon volleyball. We blew them up and let them sputter toward the ceiling on purpose, repeatedly. All was well for three weeks.

Today, though, new clamoring commenced. “”Mommy, can we do water balloons?”"

The air conditioning hummed, the ceiling fan whirred, yet I sweated again. I’d been stalling, claiming we didn’t have the “”right”" balloons. Friday, we found genuine, certified water balloons. I had no more excuses.

How, you ask, can a decently educated professional not know how to fill a water balloon? Beats the heck out of me. I must have ditched that day in Parenting 101.

I tried blowing up the balloon and then filling it with water. Go ahead, laugh. You know exactly what happened.

I tried pouring water through a funnel, which resulted in a water balloon of sorts. The guys weren’t willing to accept the anorexic substitute, though.

Finally, I did what I always do when an easy task flummoxes me. I googled.

I felt a lot better when I saw some other common-sense challenged schmuck had posed the same question at Yahoo! Answers.

Duh! You stretch it around the faucet and fill it.

Mystery solved, reputation redeemed.

I have to go back to the store tomorrow, though. We’re out of balloons.

Copyright 2008 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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