Friday, November 11th, 2005
Balloon addiction wrap-up
This is an update to HOW TO: overcome balloon addiction. Read that post first if you want things to make sense.
The experiment is over. The balloons are dead. Here is my story.
Day One: Before Little Miss woke up the first morning, several balloons were placed in each room, resting on the ceiling. I snipped their ribbon leashes in half so that our cat Brown couldn’t reach them (the ribbons). After Miss awoke, she screamed and reached for the balloons. I immediately caved to her demands. We walked from room to room and I handed her each balloon.
Five is the magic number. She can’t hold onto more than five Mylar
balloons as she walks through a doorway. The balloons bulge and jockey
for position to squeeze through the doorways, and not all of them make
it. Have you seen fish spawn upstream? Same thing. Triumph of spirit,
tragedy of life. Not all of them complete the journey.
After 15 minutes, I tired of handing and rehanding Miss the balloons
that she kept losing. One freed itself from its
leash, so I grabbed it from the ceiling and handed it to her. With both hands holding leashes, what could she do? She gave the balloon a bear hug and I watched her facial
expression change from joy to frustration. Trapped in a bear hug, she knew she couldn’t hold anything more. She motioned for me to take the balloon back. I laughed maniacally. Really. Outsmarting
toddlers is easy. Tricking toddlers is a challenge.
I eventually released Miss from her burden. My point had been made. I might be her balloon servant, but I’m still in charge.
As the day wore on, Miss became satisfied toting five balloons and she stopped asking for more.
Day Two: I reverted to my original plan, hanging two or three
balloons in each room â€“ from lamps, chairs and other pieces of
furniture. I even tied one to the back of her feeding chair. She frequently pointed and shouted "bough!" Surprisingly, she didn’t
throw a fit.
The Next Ten Days: Little Miss became partially desensitized
to the presence of the balloons. Perhaps six times a day she gestured and said something with excitement, but her
interest was easily distracted into other matters. She eventually
ignored the balloons, except when one would get in our way and we
batted it away with our hand.
Meow: It’s amazing where cats can maneuver themselves when
they really want something. [Here is a photo of a more obvious attempt.] Brown only puked up
balloon ribbon twice!
Halloween Eve: The experiment was ruined the day before Halloween. At 16 months, this was our first real Halloween with our daughter. We decided
to dress Little Miss as a clown and take her on a daytime
trick-or-treat walk in a local shopping district.
She wore a one-piece
outfit littered with big colorful dots. Mom drew two red dots on
her face with lipstick. That was the whole costume, or so I thought.
Before I knew what was happening, Mom had untied a balloon and
retied it around Little Miss’ wrist.
"NOOOOOOO!" Mom tried to explain away her crime by saying clowns carry balloons. Well, Miss was overjoyed to be touching a balloon again.
The damage was done. The experiment was tainted. There was nothing left to do but muster up my strength and go on living.
This particular trick-or-treat event entailed all of the kids lining
up and walking from store-to-store to meet merchants at their
doorsteps. But first, the kids and parents were corralled inside a
haunted, gutted grocery store and told to stand in a
large circle. Why? I’m not sure because the nice lady on the microphone
sounded as if she came to us straight from a Charlie Brown TV special.
"Mwa mwa mwa, whaa whaa whaa."
Side note: there were creepy decrepit Christmas decorations lying against a wall near us, left over from 1960, or somesuch era.
From the far end of the building we could hear the murmurs… the
moaning… the crying… and the little fingers pointing at us. Our
single balloon tormented the other toddlers. Oh, how they coveted our
The actual trick-or-treating was uneventful. Miss didn’t understand why
she was collecting small objects from big people, and she was quite
unhappy if those objects were placed into her bag instead of handed to
her. Mostly, she liked having a balloon again.
Halloween Day: We pimped Little Miss out a second time
collecting candy at a downtown trick-or-treating event with several of Mom’s friends and toddlers. I say "pimped
out" because we ate all of Miss’ candy on her behalf. This time we didn’t
bring a balloon.
Conclusion: This immersion experiment had the desired effect. My daughter no longer goes completely bonkers. She merely goes a little bonkers. When she encounters
balloons in stores now, her eyes still light up as if it’s the first
time she has seen such a spectacle, but she is easily distracted into
other matters. I count that as success.