Doug once said that he was dreading the day that a balloon of Elisabeth's popped. She loves balloons. And whenever something happens to a kid's balloon, it is a tragic event. Well... yesterday something happened to Elisabeth's balloon. We went to a birthday party for a kid in her class. They gave each kid a helium balloon, in the color of their choice. She chose blue, predictably. I tied it to her wrist like the good mother I am.
We then went to Costco, where I insisted that she let me untie it (foreshadowing alert!!!). We left the balloon in the car and did our shopping. We piled back into the car and came home. I said, as we exited the car, "Elisabeth, go straight inside. Do NOT let go of your balloon. Don't go out in the driveway. Just go inside." (see how good I am at reinforcement?) And, as you can all guess... she went outside. It was just too exciting, the neighbors showed up with their new dog Jack. Doug and Charlotte came outside too. In all of the excitement, the balloon got released.
I have never, and I mean never, seen Elisabeth react so strongly to something, including last weekend when I scared the bejeezus out of her for picking up a dead mouse. The wailing was Oscar worthy. Charlotte, who is apparently the most sympathetic kid ever, burst into tears immediately upon Elisabeth's outburst. So there we stood in our driveway, Doug holding a sobbing Charlotte and me holding a sobbing Elisabeth. Neighbors all looked up to see what in the world we had done to our kids.
I tried to get Elisabeth to see how cool the balloon looked way up in the sky, as high as the airplanes. She did not appreciate the magnificence. We tried to just calm her down and hug her. No luck. So I pulled out the big guns. "Elisabeth, I bought you a Christmas present. I'll give it to you now if you'll stop crying..." "NO Mommy!!! Don't give me my Christmas present now!" This is when I knew we were really in trouble.
All that I had left in my bag of tricks was a promise to go out and find her another blue balloon on Sunday. She said that was ok, and we went inside where she continued to cry, on and off, for about an hour. Our neighbors' kids, who are two of the sweetest kids on earth, witnessed the meltdown and snuck over with a yellow helium balloon left over from a birthday party the day before and left it on our front doorstep. Elisabeth was grateful for another balloon but kept on crying and saying pathetic things. "I miss my balloon." "Can we go look for my balloon?" "Mommy, why did you let my balloon fly away? I was trying to give it to you."
True to my word (and since she asked me about it 15 times), I set out today to find her a blue balloon. At the grocery store, which would be our only stop, all they had were mylar balloons. But for $3.99, it was worth not having to drive around aimlessly looking for a place that was both open on Sunday and sold regular balloons. I had one of these fancy "TV carts" that Safeway now offers. They are a smaller shopping cart with a car in the front for kids to sit in. In the car is a tv screen that shows episodes of things like Bob the Builder. Charlotte and Elisabeth got in. 5 seconds later, Charlotte got out through the front window - despite being buckled in. The kid is Houdini. I put her back in. She got back out. After 3 more attempts, I finally said "forget it" and threw her in the back with the food. She proceeded to climb out of the cart and nearly kill herself a few times. So I tried to carry her and push a very heavy cart (those TV carts are not nimble little sporty things). This did not go well for many reasons, not the least of which is Charlotte's habit of going limp in an effort to make you put her down.
So, I picked out a mylar balloon and let Charlotte hold it, in the back of the cart, while I pushed. She spent the next 7 aisles beating me senseless with the balloon while hollering and making aggressive sounding grunting noises. The nice little old lady behind me in line, witnessing the abuse, said, "my, she's a rugged little thing, isn't she? Ready for anything..."
And then she followed that up with, "but her sister is so nice and quiet..." Lady, if you only knew....