A few days ago, tired, fractious Harry and I were trudging our way through the supermarket checkout in the early evening. To my delight, the store was having a promotion and helium balloons festooned the checkout; I quickly knotted one to the trolley handle to stave off melt-down. In undisputed possession, Harry temporarily transformed into a very happy bunny indeed. Outside, he batted at it, chortling in pleasure, whilst I loaded the car boot with groceries.


I glance up at my balloon boy, and decant another bag into the car.

*Insistently* ‘UH-OH!’

I look at him, and turn to follow his perturbed gaze, a couple of hundred yards across the car park. Sure enough, some poor child’s balloon has come loose from its moorings, and is rapidly gaining height.

Some day, lovey, I thought, the wind is going to blow your balloon away. Or your candy floss. Now that’s a sad sight when you’re three: a fuzzy pink stick, where a nano-second beforehand there was a toothsome pink cloud of enamel-dissolving sugar.

So, for no better reason than a vague attempt at installing some concept of empathy as the occasion had arisen, as well as a smidge of preparatory emotional cushioning against future mishaps, I decided to give a Life Really Sucks lecture.

‘Oh, no! Harry! Another little boy has lost his bouncy balloon!’

Solemn nod.

‘Oh, Harry, that’s quite (Makaton-sign for) *SAD* sad.’

Another nod. *SAD*

‘Maybe he will have more *MORE* balloons tomorrow and he will be happy *HAPPY* again.’

Uncertain look. Little head-shake.

‘I think that little boy is probably a bit sad *SAD* at the moment though, isn’t he? He can see it flying away, look!’

Enthusiastic nod. *SAD*

‘Well, darling, it IS sad when you lose your balloon, but I don’t think he’ll be sad for very long, though, will he?’

Nod. Taps own chest.

‘Oh, Harry, are you sad *SAD* for that little boy? That poor little boy who has lost his balloon?

Emphatic, full-on nod. Chest tap. Puppy-eyes.

My focus broadens to take in the trolley handle.

The empty trolley handle.

I’ve been extolling the misery of watching your balloon fly away to a tiny little boy who is watching his balloon fly away. 



13 Responses

  1. Oh dear. Don’t tell Harry, but I have just giggled madly. If it helps, it was a very guilty giggle and I choked.

  2. Oh woe.

  3. Oh no! (also chuckling guiltily) – I’m fairly certain I’ve done some similar things to my poor girl. I do love the “did you know that you are absolutely crazy?” look that I get in those situations.

  4. Oh God. I laughed and laughed. Poor litle boy who’s lost his balloon. Poor Harry. Awwww, bless.

    I’m glad I got to laugh over here the other side of the internet. I might have suffered Alarming Failure To Contain Snorting if I’d been in the same carpark. Which would have REALLY helped. Ohhh, poor Harry. Oy vey.

  5. Poor boys 😦

  6. Oh dear. Poor little fellow. A bit young to learn about dramatic irony.

    Fascinating, this Makaton. Do you use it to signal to HFF husband across a noisy pub?
    I am now seeing how useful it could be.

  7. Cue whipping out the wallet and buying not one, but two balloons.


  8. What I want to know is, did the balloon fly away before you started talking to Harry or after??!

  9. We get all out pitched battles about balloon custody. Lost many that way 🙂


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