Last night I took the kids to the super expensive but totally worth it Yo Gabba Gabba! Live show at Radio City. Brobee! Foofa! Drea de Matteo! Wine for the adults! Really, what’s not to love?
Until the balloons came down.
The balloons that my girls had stared at through the entire first act once they noticed the giant nets tethered to the ceiling, just hoping that one might come their way.
“They won’t make it to us,” my dad said, calculating the trajectory from the center of the ceiling to the far reaches of the left aisle where we were seated.
“Depends which way the fans are blowing,” I mumbled, trying to scrape up some optimism.
While the balloons cascaded down, I did the math – there were plenty balloons for all the kids in the orchestra seats. Until I realized that parents were grabbing AS MANY BALLOONS AS THEY CAN! GRAB THEM! GRAB THEM ALL! TACKLE THE CHILDREN! THROW AN ELBOW! ARGHHHHHHH!
You would have thought they were hiding cash money in those balloons with the way parents were racing for them. Like, dammit, we paid a lot for these tickets. We are going to get our money’s worth. IN BALLOONS.
I saw infants sharing lap space with two or three dubiously procured balloons. I saw parents waving a half dozen in their hands, jumping up and down as if they had won the lottery.
As I turned fro the total balloon mayhem back towards my girls, I watched Thalia’s face devolve from pure joy to utter despair. There were no more balloons in the nets. All the balloons were taken.
The sobbing started (oh no! Not the sobbing!) and I tried every terrible parenting trick in my book.
Don’t cry Thalia, sometimes we don’t get balloons. Life isn’t always fair.
Thalia, really, we don’t cry over balloons. Look how much fun we’re having! Remember the part when Toodee was hiding?
Don’t cry Thalia, maybe they will give them out after the show! We’ll look after the show, okay?
Want another sip of my Coke, Thalia? Sugar!
Oh Thalia, please don’t cry — if we don’t get one here, we’ll get one tomorrow. A big one. A pink one – you like pink right? They don’t even have pink here!
And then I gave up. Because as much as I want my kids to learn that life isn’t always fair, this wasn’t the time.
I took my crying five year-old in my arms, raced down the aisle and grabbed the first mom I saw holding more balloons than children. As nicely as I could, I pleaded, “Crying child here. Any chance you have a balloon to spare?”
And wouldn’t you know it, she did. Bless her forever.
We took good care of that hard-won balloon. I hid it under a jacket the entire second act (the kids behind us were eyeing it greedily). I raced after it twice when it escaped into the aisle. I juggled it–and Sage, and the popcorn, and the jackets–three blocks back to the subway then straight to Brooklyn.
It lasted about 45 minutes. But no one cried.
I suppose it is better to have loved and lost a balloon than to never have loved one at all.