Parents. Patience. Balloons.
To me, those two words look identical. Let me share a recent story.
This past 4th of July,* the kids were especially excited for a trip to the local mall for one of those family-friendly festivals that really only have a 50% chance of being “family-friendly.” Well, the wrong side of the coin dropped on this one. This event was as kid-friendly as an antique festival or a smoker’s convention.
Wait, it actually kind of was a smoker’s convention. A message to smokers: just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
Besides being an opportunity for children to inhale various carcinogens against their will, this family festival was sorely lacking in both the “family” and “festival” departments. I think they had a budget of about a hundred dollars. There was literally nothing for kids to do at this thing, except for a couple of bounce houses at $8 per kid. Was I going to fork out $16 for them to jump around in an overcrowded balloon? Hell no. The problem was that I talked it up too much to my kids, and now we were stuck in one of those “cancer if you stay, crying kids if you leave” situations.
How do you break it to your kids that the awesome activities you promised them are non-existent? Instead of fun and fireworks they’d be walking around a parking lot then leaving? What kind of currency could we use to escape this situation?
Then my wife and I saw it. A balloon stand. There was our currency. Balloons are like precious diamonds to kids. Precious floating explodable gems. And these ones were… free? Maybe they had a budget of two hundred dollars.
The balloons weren’t exactly free, however, because of the line. The very, very, very long line. But it was our escape. We asked the kids if we could leave, under the conditions that they each got a balloon. They agreed. We won. A parent win.
…so after our long wait and a half a pack of cigarettes worth of second-hand smoke, they had their ‘loons and we took off. We were escaping without forking out five bucks for some crime against food. As we made our way back to the car with no meltdowns, finally free to go, it happened. I turned around to notice my younger child… without the balloon, and with a sad face. Her diamond snagged on a car and popped.
The first thought was “I am NOT going back in that smokefest” but that immediately gave way to “either we go back in there and get a replacement, or we will be facing a torrential downpour of tears.” That’s when Mom and I made eye contact and clearly were thinking the same thing. We turned around and headed back into the proverbial stinky lion’s den.
…after waiting in a line that was twice as long as the first, our kid had her second balloon** and a smile on her face.
And that, my friends, is how patient parents operate.
* and our family had a great one, which involved a whole lot of quality family time.
** Which I carried back to the car very carefully.