Saturday, October 17, 2009

Runaway Helium Balloon Story

Did anyone else notice that when the balloon finally came down in the field that the first responders hacked it to pieces with axes? Did it really take that much to keep it grounded or did they want to make sure it never flew again?

This story has been a popular subject on talk radio lately, maybe not the story itself, but parenting in general. One talk show host thinks all parents should always know what their children are doing. I was really surprised and relieved that so many people called in saying that kids will find something to get into, whether it is a helium balloon in the backyard, a car in the garage, or even a tall tree or barn roof. Of course, the radio show aired before the media really dug into this family and exposed some of their more bizarre parenting moments.

I'm not here to judge the competency of these parents or whether this was a hoax or not (which it turned out to be). I think a lot of parents of that generation are permissive parents and their children are spoiled. I guess that is indicative of my age, just as has been for past generations - every generation thinks the next generation is too lenient. Plus, I don't know enough about the parents to draw any conclusions. I don't trust the media to provide all the facts, just those that will make the best copy. Isn't that what we are taught in writing class? The point I wanted to make is that the majority of people still think kids will be kids, even in the best (or worst) of families, and most parents do the best job they can, considering that parenting is on-the-job-training. We hear of so many children who are taken away from their parents based on suspicions or someone else's misconstrued information. I was relieved to know that most people still think both children and parents have the right to make mistakes (I said mistakes, not abuse) without interference, and hopefully learn from them.

My youngest daughter was one of those who knew no fear. At age one when she had only been walking a few months, we caught her walking the edge around the pool table. How she got up there, I have no idea. We got rid of the pool table soon after. We also had French doors with a removable wood grille which she treated like a ladder. We put those in the attic. When she was about five, she climbed to the top of the wood play fort; I don't mean she was inside the fort, no, she was on top of the whole thing, walking the top rail that the canvas cover went over. I remember standing in the yard trying to keep the panic out of my voice when I told her to come down.

I am sure if we had access to helium, my youngest would have tried filling party balloons or trash bags and trying to launch herself into space. Luckily, it's not something we have ever had laying around. I think all kids have a fascination with flying - tv and movies make it look so easy. When I was about six or seven, my friends and I climbed to the flat roof of one of their homes, onto the top of the fireplace, opened an umbrella and jumped. Actually, only one of us jumped and it wasn't me. We couldn't understand why it didn't work for us when it worked so wonderfully for Mary Poppins. And no, my mother never heard about that escapade because it wasn't her umbrella that was destroyed.

I thought I watched my kids like a hawk, but the truth is, you can't watch your child every second of every day, and that doubles or triples when you have more than one child. Both of my daughters have relayed exploits of their youth that I was absolutely unaware of, and I'm sure there is more. I never told my parents about the time my girlfriend and I rode bicycles to a town about thirty miles away, all hills too. By the time we started back home, we were beginning to stiffen up, and couldn't make it back home. That was before the cell phone and no way to call for help. So we hitch-hiked. I know. Terrible. But it was the 70's and not quite as dangerous as it is today. Still, I never plan on telling my mother.

Have your kids ever done anything that might bring CPS to your door nowadays?

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