Joe gave Cole and me the best birthday present: a sign! Cole would have been too young at the time to recognize the reference, but the moment I “got it” and shared it with him, we giggled together (I giggled, Cole laughed-Cole never giggles).
Cole’s 2nd birthday was the first birthday we celebrated in our new house. It was a Mother Goose theme party. Naturally, I was Mother Goose and Joe was Farmer Joe. We invited the parents in my mom’s group. The party included all the trimmings, and the trimmings always included balloons. It was our first real kids party.
Balloons were a potential party risk, since they do carry a warning about being a choking hazard to small children. As most new moms find out quickly, it’s important to at least pretend to be concerned about the same things other new moms are concerned about – especially if the concern is printed on the package. I also knew that one mom, in particular, would probably know and tell the story of another mom whose mom had a friend whose child had almost died choking on a balloon. This story would have all the other moms staring me as though I had just invited this horror to happen in my living room. The easy solution, of course, would have been to say forget the balloons.
Instead, like all new moms are prone to do, I obsessed. I loved balloons! Balloons were festive. How could we possible have a birthday party without balloons? Now, can you start to see Joe’s eye glaze over? He would encourage me to have the balloons, and I would say, “Well, what about the choking hazard?” Then he would say, “Well, don’t have the balloons,” and I would wail, “How can we have a party without balloons?” This went on until he looked at me, reached for my throat and screamed,
“WHO FUCKING CARES IF A KID CHOKES ON A BALLOON? JUST BUY THE BALLOONS AND SHUT UP!”
I screamed back,
“YOU DON’T CARE IF A KID CHOKES ON A BALLOON IN OUR LIVING ROOM?”
And he screamed back,
“NO! I’M SICK OF TALKING ABOUT BALLOONS.”
I was horrified, of course, and accused him of all sorts of things, including not being sensitive or nice. We had a huge blow-up about balloons; a major fight.
However, we did have balloons at the party and we did not lose any guests. When the toddler of the mom I was worried about grabbed for a balloon and said loudly, “NO! NO! Balloons are not for LITTLE children,” Joe glared at her so hard that she meekly watched as her child took off around the room with a bright green ribbon attached to a bright green balloon, holding on for dear life. I stood there, dressed as Mother Goose, gazing at Farmer Joe and thinking, “What a guy.”
The party ended and all the tots left with balloons tied around their wrists. I grinned as I watched Joe tie them tightly around their tiny wrists. The next morning, Joe and I laughed when we looked up into our tree where two balloons were caught together – a green and a pink. Those balloons remained in the tree for several weeks after the party had ended, and often made us laugh at our absurd screaming match.
Yesterday, I looked out my bedroom window, and in the same very tree, caught on almost the very same branch were two balloons – a pink one and a green one. I laughed, told Cole the story, and we both laughed together (Cole laughed, I giggled).
Loved the balloons, Joe.
I was there, Katybeth.
You always are, Joe.
Love you, too.
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