Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Balloon Incident, Or: Why I'm A Bad Mom (and possibly a bad neighbor, too)

About four years ago, my husband and I were expecting our first child together.  We had made the decision to leave our lovely (and tiny) little loft in Birmingham, and move out to McCalla.

We found a nice little house, not-too-big, not-too-small, in a nice neighborhood, and were settling into a sweet little suburban life. We loved the area, we loved our new home, and we loved our new neighbors.

Fast-forward to my son's first birthday party.

As a new mom, I felt like I had been inundated by others (what I considered "Overachiever Moms") to have THE PERFECT BIRTHDAY PARTY for my son.  You know. . . little signs and place cards for every single finger-food on display, perfect centerpieces, fancy straws, a free puppy for every attendee. . . it was making me crazy.

So very early on, I decided:  Screw it.

We're NOT perfect.  We're not a perfect family, we don't have a perfect life, and we certainly don't have perfect THINGS.

**I feel that it is only fair to note that I do NOT hate those moms.  At all.  You do you, baby.  It's just that I was a crazy new mom.  And I was sick of it.  ALL of it.  And I was entering what I think of as a Minimalist Period in my life.  I was in the process of trying to strip away everything in my life that wasn't necessary.  To get to the meat of actually living, if you will.  Anyway. . .

So I decided that my son would NOT have a pinterest-perfect first birthday party.  No.

We were just going to have a party in our back yard.  With friends and family, streamers and balloons, and food from the grill.

We set up his high chair, with a cute little Winnie the Pooh banner behind it, put up our EZ-Up for shade, set up the kiddie pools for the littles, and I spent half the morning blowing up balloons for the kids to play with.

Party time comes.  All our friends and family show up, along with a handful of neighbors that had younger kids.

It was great.  =)

My brand new one year-old got to smish around with his smash cake, we took TONS of photos, and the grown-ups enjoyed cold beer and hot dogs.

And I was JUST in the process of mentally patting myself on the back for all this wizard-level adulting when I walked inside the house to get something.

. . . And that's when I see one of our neighbor's kids (maybe 6 or 7 years old) jumping on our white couch WITH his dirty shoes on.


To my credit here, I did NOT freak out.

My first thought was:  Oh shit.  He's gonna ruin our couch.

My second thought was:  I need to get him back into the back yard, because if his parents see this, he's gonna get in trouble.

So I walked up to the kid, and politely told him that he needed to get off the couch, and back into the back yard.

He stared at me.  Said:  "No."  And continued to bounce.


Right about that time was when I noticed that he had one of the balloons inside.

Which I simply could not have.

Not for any reasons regarding propriety, but simply because we had two cats in the house.  And they LOVED chewing on the remains of popped balloons.  That was a vet bill that I did not want.

So I reclaimed my calm, and told the child that he was going to have to take the balloon into the back yard.

"See buddy, our kitty cats like chewing on balloon pieces, and that's not good for them.  So I'm gonna need you to be a pal and take that outside."

Again, the response was:  "No."

*Bounce, bounce, bounce.*

Ohhhhhhh hell no.

I had had enough.

I grabbed the balloon and popped it.  Right in his little 6 year-old face.

"There are more balloons outside, and that is where you're going.  NOW."

And that was the end of it.  . . . or so I thought.


A couple of days later, I shared a retelling of the incident on facebook, as a mildly amusing anecdote. I didn't name any names, I didn't cast any shade, and honestly, I thought the whole incident was pretty funny.

Ohhhh, to be that young and naive again.

A few minutes after sharing the story, I had several messages from moms that were at the party.  "Was that my kid?  I'm so sorry!"

. . . from pretty much every mom EXCEPT the mom of the child in question.

From her. . . I got a STRONGLY WORDED MESSAGE.

She was infuriated.  She had asked her angel if I had popped his balloon, and he told her that I had.



Ummmm. . . yes?  He is just a child.  Just like OUR kids are just children.  And yet, inexplicably, they are STILL expected to behave when they go over to someone's home.



Well, for one: because I am an adult.  I am perfectly capable of handling a misbehaving child.  Secondly, I assumed that if I came and got you, then the kid would be in trouble.  (This was, of course, before I learned that you do not actually discipline your child, and that whatever he wants to do at any given time is fine with you.)

Long story short, the woman called for a public apology from me on facebook.  (Which I declined.)

And then there was some debate (and I am completely serious here) about whether or not she and her friends were ever going to feel comfortable having balloons at a birthday party again, because apparently this had been a scarring incident.

This was my gentle introduction into the different types of moms that are out there.  =>

P.S.  It was also moms of this ilk that shamed me for sharing a story of when my son was little, and liked to pull my hair.  And eventually I got sick of it, and pulled his hair, too.  I called it a lesson in cause and effect, but I'm pretty sure they think I'm a psychopath.