HOW TO: Overcome Balloon Addiction

Little Miss has an unhealthy attraction to helium balloons. One of her friends gave her one for her first birthday. Today, at 16 months, we cannot go out in public without Miss having a complete loss of bodily control at the mere sight of a balloon. Agitated excitement. Body tremors. Finger pointing. Slurred shouting ("Bough! Bough!"). And when she doesn’t get what she wants, there is screaming, crying and a complete breakdown of civil society.

Little Miss carrying 16 balloons in our neighborhoodBalloons tempt her everywhere: grocery stores, small independent stores, big chain stores or merely driving past a car dealership. What follows is an in-progress "HOW TO" on freeing a loved one suffering from balloon dependency. Our first two attempts failed, while our third began today. We will see this thing through until we win our lives back from the helium scourge. 

Attempt #1: Cut cold turkey

I thought, I’ll grab scissors and cut the ties that bind. I couldn’t let the balloons free outside because the power company hates tangled electrical lines. Instead, I took the balloons into a dark room and made their end quick and painless.

Reason for failure: We cannot afford a nanny or au pair (nor want one), so we take Little Miss with us while shopping. And thus, our daughter is never truly free from the temptation and torment of balloons.

Little Miss sitting in her car seat trying to hold 6 balloonsAttempt #2: Intervention

An intervention is a planned event where you bring together family and friends and confront an addicted individual. It’s about approaching Little Miss in a loving manner, letting her know that her balloon infatuation is affecting more than just herself.

Reason for failure: No one would intervene. All of her friends are into balloons and they have a saying, "Never trust anyone over three" (years of age).

Attempt #3: Total Immersion

Last evening, Little Miss went bonkers over balloons at the hardware store, and a revelation hit me. What if Miss likes balloons because they seem special, filling a void in her home life? Right then and there I concocted a devious plan, and convinced my wife to support it.

We drove to the dollar store and bought 16 helium balloons. The total would have been twenty, but we don’t own a minivan.

First, kudos to me for fitting 10 balloons in our sedan’s trunk.

Second, hisses to the store clerk for balking at my purchasing a legal product at her check-out station. It’s not my fault she had to look up 16 ID codes so that the store can keep a correct tally of its inventory. I would have purchased 16 "It’s a Girl!" or "Happy Birthday!" or "Congratulations!" balloons if the store had offered 16 identical already-inflated options.

A toddler's view of 16 balloons, a photo shot looking up with balloon strings dangling downThe plan: Hang balloons in high locations in every room of our house, just like how Miss sees them in stores. Let her cry her heart out when we refuse to hand her the balloons. Let’s get this addiction out of her system in the safe confines of our home. Simple, eh?

In the car, Miss seemed at first excited and then a little worried by 6 balloons bouncing around with her in the back seat of our sedan. Before bedtime we tied all 16 balloons to Squeak E. Mouse’s backpack and weighted it with a Ball Blast plastic ball and a ring from our stacking toy and let Little Miss parade around our neighborhood. It was her last taste of joy. Today, I’ll hang each balloon from furniture as Miss watches.

This experiment could turn tragic for Brown, one of our two cats. When Miss has a balloon, Brown follows her around the house trying to eat the balloon string. Miss loves the attention, but I hate cleaning up cat puke filled with chunks of string. So, as we drive Little Miss crazy in the coming weeks with our look-but-don’t-touch intervention, we will also be driving our cat mad at the sight of all the unobtainable string.

Now read the exciting conclusion to this experiment… Balloon Addiction Wrap-up.


2 Responses to “HOW TO: Overcome Balloon Addiction”

  1. Joel says:

    you could try pumpkins as a substitute???…

    October 18th, 2005 at 2:04 am

  2. AJ says:

    Big pumpkins quickly become mushy and collapse in on themselves within a couple months because of the high volume of juice trapped inside. Besides, Miss can’t pick up a normal sized pumpkin. It was funny to watch her though when we visited a pumpkin patch last weekend. (By the way, never explore a corn maze after a storm. It’s like hiking through a thick jungle.)

    A small pumpkin will last a good eight months (I speak from experience). But, Little Miss would roll small pumpkins around the house, knocking them with mold-inducing nicks, scratches and dents. I’m guessing a Mylar helium balloon would last longer, about two weeks. Plus, if her addiction heads into November and December, canned pumpkin from the grocery store just wouldn’t suffice as a balloon substitute.

    October 18th, 2005 at 1:57 pm