sudden onset balloon-a-phobia

Kids love balloons, right?  I mean, have you ever seen a child that did not like playing with a balloon?  I had not… until very recently.

Seems that my 2 and a half year old has developed sudden onset balloon-a-phobia.  Symptoms:  Intense fear of balloons floating.  Tears, screams, uncontrollable behavior when seeing balloons floating. 

This started at the grocery store.  Yes, not the most common place for a never-before-seen psychological disorder to erupt, but erupt it did.  Our grocery store offers free balloons to the kids as they are walking in.  Rachel has always loved getting the balloons… and I have always loved that they kept first her entertained, and later, her and Eli entertained.  Without warning, a few weeks ago, we get balloons when we go in… and she started FREAKING OUT.  I’m talking… “need a shot of sedative” freaking out.  She was clutching her balloon tightly to her, and trying to grab Eli’s so that it didn’t float.  I’m thinking, “maybe she’s just tired?”  Or at least I’m hoping that’s all it is.  We process through the entire painful grocery shopping trip with her screams reverberating throughout the massive complex.  Ah… what mother has NOT experienced this at one time or another?  I’m getting sympathetic looks from the “been there done that” moms, and dirty looks from the single/no kids “why can’t you shut your kid up” folks.  We make it out… barely alive… and I put it behind me.  At home, she’s still not happy about the floating state of the balloons, so during naptime, I pop the suckers and hope that  it’s “out of sight, out of mind”.  And it is.

Couple more grocery trips go by, and I decide to try again.  We get the balloons.  Oops.  Big mistake.  The balloon-a-phobia kicks into high gear.  We go back to get the ink cartridges refilled, and a mother with her cart and 2 kids scoots away from us.  I’m thinking she doesn’t want it to spread.  Turns out she thought she was making my child frantic.  I explain that it’s the floating balloons, not her that’s prompting the tears.  She sneaks away, grateful, I’m sure, that her kids are being better behaved than mine.  *sigh*

So, we’re looking through the 99 cent winter clearance clothes, and I have had enough. I take BOTH balloons, walk up to a lady wearing a nametag indicating she works there, and give her the balloons.  I explain that my child can’t handle the balloons floating, and would she please just get rid of them for me???  She laughs (I’m assuming she has kids), and does so.  Bless her, where ever she may be, bless her.  I go back to the cart and tell Rachel the balloons are gone, and it’s okay.  She sniffles, “I don’t like balloons”.  I tell her, “I know you don’t, it’s okay.”  And, the rest of the trip occurs without incident.

Today, the final straw.  I was able to officially make my diagnosis.  We checked out, and stopped by the little machine with the claw where the kids get a little plastic egg with a sticker in it.  (Also, free at our store)   This particular machine is ridiculous.  The claw doesn’t work well, so it takes about forty tries to get a stupid plastic egg.  After finally getting Rachel’s egg out, we start working on Eli’s egg.  Unfortunately, by this time there is someone else waiting to use the machine with her child, and after a brief conference with her about the general crappy-ness of the machine, I decide to forget Eli’s egg… he probably won’t even notice or care.  WRONG.  He starts shrieking like a banshee, and so I grab a balloon for *just* him on the way out the door.  I figure, maybe she won’t freak out if only he has one.  WRONG (again).  So, we book it to the car, I’m pushing the cart, and holding onto the balloon so it doesn’t sway in the breeze.  Eli’s happy just to be holding onto the lollypop at the end, and Rachel is crying.  We make it to the car, and she seems okay… until we get home.  She takes the balloon, and lays it on the couch and then covers it up with a pillow!  Oh My Gosh!  I ask her why she’s done this, and she tells me, “so it won’t float”.  I try to take it out of hiding a little later, and it ends up under the pillow again.  She can’t stand for it to be floating!  CRAZY!!!

Needless to say, that poor balloon also met a premature death by scissors during naptime. 

What am I supposed to do with this?  Will we never be able to go to another birthday party again???  Will it progress to breaking down when she sees a balloon anywhere, at anytime???  Who knows.  I do know I’ve learned my lesson about the grocery store…


1 Comments on “sudden onset balloon-a-phobia”

  1. Dear Rachel,

    For your next birthday, have we got a surprise for you! We’re going to! They have lots of different pretty balloons for us to choose from, just for you! 🙂


    Aunt Kate and the gang

    PS- You made Aunt Kate’s day! She needed that laugh a lot!

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