Parenting

The trouble with balloons

Ian shares his dislike of balloons — and why he thinks parents should avoid them at all costs.

Photo: toysarefunforyou/iStockphoto

I have always had an issue with balloons.

Maybe it stems from my childhood, when the opening scene from the TV show Webster showed a young Emmanuel Lewis being lifted away because he was carrying too many balloons.

On the surface, balloons seem harmless. They’ve fun, festive and are usually handed out for free at places where children can be found — like shopping malls, amusement parks and car dealerships.

But make no mistake about it; balloons can have a devastating effect on a family. Every balloon should come with a countdown timer to indicate when your child will start crying, because they are designed to break a child’s heart. Once you accept a balloon as a parent, you are consenting to the likelihood that your child is 400 percent more likely to cry within the next 30 minutes.

There are only three possible outcomes with a balloon:
1. It will pop
2. It will float away
3. It will slowly deflate inside your home (This is the best-case scenario)

While balloons are designed to be fun, they merely raise everyone’s anxiety levels once you have them. Your child will be on edge, worried that options No. 1 and No. 2 from the list above will occur.
And a fun outing at the mall has suddenly turned into a high-stakes game to preserve a piece of plastic that is worth four cents on the open market.

You are constantly warning the child to hold onto the balloon’s string. You tell them be careful of the balloon when you’re going into the elevator. And have you ever tried going to the washroom with a kid who has a balloon tied to their wrist? Good times, indeed.

I also hate the one being left to hold the balloon, because I never feel like I have the appropriate smile on my face. People with balloons should be laughing and care-free. But the next time you look into the eyes of a parent who is holding a balloon, you will see a vacant and empty stare. A parent holding a balloon means that the child has lost interest in it — and this can often occur about 90 seconds after the balloon is initially picked up.

In this situation, you have to secretly pray that the balloon will pop and you will be released from the awful burden of carrying it around the food court. I will admit that I find it funny watching kids cry when a balloon pops, because they have that awesome delayed-reaction thing going on. It takes their tiny brains about three-to-five seconds to process the sound of the loud pop to what it actually means. 

And no matter what you think, delayed-reaction crying is hilarious in any situation.

If you make it back to your vehicle with your balloon, now you have a whole new set of problems to deal with. Nothing covers a driver’s blind spot or rearview mirror quite like a free balloon. I always fear I will die in a fiery crash that was caused by a balloon that obstructed my view of an 18-wheeler in my blind spot. If that happens, I would like my tombstone to simply read:

Ian Mendes
“A loving husband and father. And in hindsight, he was right about balloons.”

If you miraculously dodge death on your drive home, you still have issues once you walk into the front door. You can’t just leave the balloon because chances are your ceiling is made of that prickly drywall. You may as well let your balloon go inside a cave which is filled with stalactites. The emotional burden of carrying around a balloon never ends.

So if you value your sanity, don’t let your child accept a balloon the next time they are offered one.