Saturday, August 9, 2008

Still life with balloons


August 9, 2008

Two helium balloons floating against the apex of the family room ceiling.

Weeks ago E brought a helium balloon home from a birthday party and immediately forgot about it. L, however, was fascinated. She would strain her little body toward its ribbon, willing herself to levitate high enough to grasp it. She would squawk and gesture to any person tall enough to get it for her, indicating in her pre-verbal way, Please! It's urgent that I hold on to this balloon! Even though I couldn't tell you why!

That balloon had a good life, surviving into ripe helium-balloon age, but eventually its posture sagged, its ribbon dragged across the ground, its mylar lost its luster. And L was devastated.

Meantime, Gramps was pretty sad, too. He had invented a game with L to distract her from her teething woes. She'd clutch the balloon string in her hand and he'd carry her around the circular floor plan of the house, dozens upon dozens upon dozens of laps. And he'd walk backwards, so that Princess L might have the pleasure of watching her balloon trail across the ceiling, so she could follow its path. (No, I don't know why she couldn't look over his shoulder as he walked forwards. But if you've met Gramps, you're satisfied enough. I think it might have had something to do with how much he enjoyed carrying her aloft as if she were sitting upon a royal throne.)

So when the original balloon had to be euthanized Gramps went out and bought each girl a shiny new balloon, so that the glory might live on. E claimed the red as hers, and immediately forgot about it. And now L has two temptations floating above. If she makes good on all this practice of standing up and cruising alongside the coffee table -- if she learns how to walk this week -- just because she thought that extra bit of verticality would make a balloon ribbon reachable -- well, then Gramps will be in big trouble, won't he. Someone remind the chick she's not even eight months old yet.
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