Monday, February 18, 2013

Balloon: A Play in Five Acts


Iris and I are at a grocery store.  Iris is nineteen months old.  She and I are in the checkout line.  It is thirty minutes past lunchtime and thirty minutes until naptime.  Iris, not surprisingly, is tired and hungry.  She also, very surprisingly, is being extremely well-behaved. 

Iris notices a display of brightly colored balloons near the checkout stand.

Iris: (pointing at the brightly colored balloons) Boon?
Cashier: (noticing Iris pointing at the balloons)
Iris: (employing her patented sweetest I-am-the-cutest-baby-you’ve-ever-seen-how-can-you-possibly-resist-me voice) Boon?
Me: (not noticing what’s going on because, after paying for my purchases, I am signing where I need to sign, putting my card back in my wallet, putting my wallet back in my purse, and trying to find my car keys. Simultaneously.)
Iris: (to the cashier again) Boon?
Cashier: (getting a pink balloon and handing the string to Iris)
Me: (naively smiling like the inexperienced mother I am)
Iris: (grinning like she’s just won the lottery and hugging the balloon) Boon!
Me: (thinking it’s cute)

Cut to: My kitchen.  I tie a weighted bag to the balloon’s string so it does not float away, make lunch for Iris, sit her in her high chair at the table and proceed to try to unpack and put away the groceries. 

Iris: (sitting in her high chair, suddenly screaming bloody murder and pointing across the room where I have, stupidly, left the balloon)  Boon!  Booon!
Me: (going to Iris, painting a smile on my face and attempting to sound cheerful) It’s lunchtime now, sweetie.  See the grilled cheese?  Mmmmmm!  You love grilled cheese!
Iris: (having none of the grilled cheese crap, screaming and crying) Booooooon! 
Me: (making an attempt to put a piece of sandwich in her mouth) Yummmmmy.
Iris: (screaming) NO!  NOOOO!  (spitting out said piece of sandwich with a force that would make a professional baseball player and his chewing tobacco jealous and crying harder and louder) BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOON!
Me: (sighing) Fine.  I will get you the balloon.

I go get her the damned balloon and tie it to the arm of her high chair so that it is right next to her.

Iris: (finding this to be an unacceptable solution, clutching the balloon to her chest and refusing to let it go long enough to eat anything)
Me: (attempting to put sandwich in her mouth)
Iris: (swinging her head away and continuing to clutch the balloon)

This goes on for several minutes, then….

Me: (untying the balloon and putting it in the laundry room) You have to eat lunch.  You can’t have the balloon if it means you won’t eat your lunch. 
Iris: (screaming unintelligibly and pointing at the laundry room)
Me: Nope.  I know I am a terrible mother and your life is awful, but you can’t have the balloon.
Iris: (more unintelligible screaming and pointing)
Me: No.
Iris: (unintelligible screaming and pointing)
Me: NO.
Iris: (unintelligible screaming and pointing)
Me: (through gritted teeth)  No.  Now. Eat.  Something.
Iris: (more screaming)
Me: Please?  Yummy grilled cheese!  And grapes!  You love grapes!
Iris: (uncontrollable sobbing while flinging sandwich on the floor)
Iris: (uncontrollable sobbing while flinging sippy cup on the floor)

Cut to: Naptime.

I take Iris upstairs while she frantically clutches the string of the balloon and stares at it to make sure it follows us to her bedroom.
Me: (leaving the balloon in the corner of Iris’s room where she can see it from her crib)
Iris: (screaming and flailing because I have, horror of horrors, taken the balloon away from her)
Me: (attempting to reason with the toddler) Iris, you need to sleep.  The balloon is right there.  It will still be there when you wake up.  You don’t need to hold it.
Iris: (screeching) Hold It!  Booooooon!!!!!
Me: No. Sleep.
Iris: Booooooonnnnnnn!!!!!!!!
Me: (stupidly attempting to use reason on a toddler) Iris, you cannot sleep with a balloon.  The string could get tangled around your neck and choke you.
Iris: (sobbing) BBBBBOOOOOOOONNNNNN!!!!!
Me: (stomping across her room to get the fucking balloon and tying its fucking string to the fucking side of the fucking crib so she can fucking have the fucking thing)  FINE!
Iris: (finding this solution unacceptable) Hhhhooooooollllllddddd Iiiittttt!!!!!
Me: NO!
Me: (grabbing the balloon, taking it outside her room, and closing the door)  NO!!!

Iris sobs herself to sleep.

I pop the fucking balloon and throw it in the trash while Iris is asleep.


Three months later, we are in the parking lot at the grocery store.  I am getting ready to put Iris into her car seat.  As I am opening the car door, Iris notices, from between the cars three rows over, a red balloon floating up into the sky.

Iris: (pointing) Wook, a boon.
Me: (watching her watch the balloon float away and smiling because I think it is cute and I am that stupid) Yes, baby.  Look at it fly into the sky.
Iris: (watching and pointing) Wook!  A boon!
Me: Yep. (I start to put her in the car)
Iris: (plaintively)  Boon?
Me: I know.
Iris: Boon??
Me: (laughing a little nervously) No, sweetie, I can’t get the balloon for you. 
Iris: (whining) Booon?
Me: Sweetie there is no balloon.  You never had a balloon.  And that one is gone now.
Iris: (whining harder) Yes! Boooon!
Me: I can’t get that balloon, it’s too far away (I show her by reaching as far as I could into the sky)
Iris: (bursting into tears)
Me: (handing Iris a stuffed toy I keep in the backseat for just such an occasion)
Iris: (angrily throwing the toy out of the car)
Me: (picking up the stuffed toy and putting it back in the car) NO! (handing her the board book I also keep in the backseat of the car)
Iris: (throwing the book out of the car)
Me: (picking up the book) NO!!
Iris: BOOON!!!
Me: (closing the car door)
Iris: (beginning to sob as though I have broken one of her limbs)
Me: (starting the car and driving home)
Iris: (repeatedly sobbing) BOOON!!! BOOON!!!!!! BOOOOOOOON!!!!!!!!!
Me: (silently vowing the kick the ass of the kid who let go of that damned balloon if I ever find out who he is, I attempt to shout over Iris’s sobs) You Never Even! Held! That Balloon!!!


We are in the checkout line of the grocery store.  Iris is two years old and riding in the cart.  She notices the balloons.  The cashier notices her noticing the balloons.

Cashier: Can she have a balloon?
Me: No. 
Cut to: The checkout line of the grocery store.  Iris is now twenty six months old and riding in the cart.  She notices the free balloons. The cashier notices her noticing the balloons.

Me: Let me stop you before you ask…no, she cannot have a balloon.

Cut to: The checkout line of the grocery store.  Iris is now two and a half.  I am carrying her on one hip while attempting to purchase our order with a credit card.  Iris notices the free balloons.  The cashier notices her noticing the balloons.

Me: (without looking up) No way.


It is Iris’s best friend Bella’s birthday party.  Bella is turning three.  Amy, Bella’s mother and, I thought, one of my best friends, gives Iris one of the balloons from the balloon bouquet that was a decoration at Bella’s party. 

Amy: (to Iris)  Now, don’t you let your mommy take this balloon away from you.
Me: (glaring at Amy) You are evil and I’m going to have to hate you now.
Amy: (laughs)

Cut to: The parking lot outside the community center where Amy held Bella’s party.  Iris is getting into her car seat and I am holding her balloon and contemplating just letting go and letting it float away.  Sadly, I don’t do it.

Iris: (sitting down)  Can I have my balloon now, Mommy?
Me: (sighing) Yes.  (attempting to hand her the balloon as she sits in her car seat.
Iris: (screeching) No!  Mommy!  Not that way!
Me: Seriously?  What way should I hand it to you?
Iris: Mommy!  Don’t bump it!
Me: Iris, the balloon isn’t hurt. It just bumped the car door.  It’s okay.
Iris: (becoming frantic) Mommy!  I need it here!
Me: (handing her the balloon)
Iris: (gesticulating in a confusing manner)
Me: You want it behind your head? (I start trying to stuff it in the car behind her head)
Iris: (starting to cry) NO!  NO!!
Me: What?  What do you WANT???
Iris: (crying hard)  I want it on my neck!
Me: On.  Your.  Neck????? 
Iris: The string!  Can you put in on my neck?
Me: NO!  Iris!  I am not tying the balloon string around your NECK!
Iris: (crying harder) Mommyyyy!!!
Me: (thinking that it’s a compromise, I start to tie the string around the shoulder strap of her car seat…after all, it’s near her neck)
Iris: (screeching) NOOOOOO!!!!!  (clawing at the string)  NOOOO!!!!!
Me: (trying to untie the string while Iris claws at it) Iris, stop.  IRIS!  STOP!!!
Iris: (sobbing) Mommmyyyyyyy!!!!!
Me: (shoving the balloon into the car and slamming the door)  This.  Has not.  Gotten better.  With age.


I pop the fucking balloon and throw it in the trash while Iris is asleep.

1 comment:

  1. That was the funniest post I have ever read. Ever. Thank you. And by funny, I mean, I am so so sorry, because I KNOW. God, do I know. lol.