Over the weekend we had a birthday party for Allie in the gym/indoor playground area of our church. Her cousin brought her a present with a cute helium balloon tied to it. It took Lexi about .3 seconds to ask if she could hold the balloon. We all know where this is going, right?
As Lexi grabbed the balloon, I thought to myself, “I should warn her not to take it over to the basketball court.” But before I could get the words out, my attention was diverted elsewhere. About 3 minutes later, the most horrific scream ever echoed across the gym. Lexi was in total meltdown mode. I was helping Allie open presents at the time, so Elian dropped what he was doing and ran over to Lexi, expecting to see her with a bone sticking out of her leg or her hand stuck in a door. She was convulsing in the kind of sobs one usually reserves for learning their best friend has died.
Elian scooped Lexi up and noticed the balloon was no longer in her hand. Instead, it was at the top of a 40 foot ceiling with no way to be recovered. As he consoled Lexi, Elian explained that he wouldn’t be able to get the balloon back. The reality of the situation set in, and Lexi cycled through the 5 stages of grief. She accepted that the balloon was lost forever, and she gradually went back to playing.
Later, Lexi was processing through the event, and she told me she and her cousin had been playing tag. When she went to tag MacKinley, Lexi let go of the balloon. She regretfully reflected on how she should have held on tighter to the ribbon. I chalked up the whole incident as a live and learn experience. Every kid has to go through the devastation of accidentally releasing a helium balloon in order for them to grasp the idea that helium is the anti-gravity.
The rest of the afternoon, Lexi and I went to a swim party while Elian stayed home and finished building a fence around our backyard (which turned out AMAZING, by the way). We got home about 8 PM, and there in the dining room was the pink helium balloon! Lexi’s eyes widened and her smile broadened as she grabbed the balloon excitedly.
“Daddy, how did you get my balloon?!” she asked.
“I just got lucky,” Elian answered.
“But did you use the ladder to get it down?” she wondered.
“Yup,” Elian replied.
“But you said the ladder was not tall enough, Daddy.” Lexi’s brow furrowed as she decided Elian’s story wasn’t adding up.
“I got on top of the ladder and used a grabby thing to get it,” he lied.
“You climbed the ladder and just grabbed the string?” my three-year-old clarified.
“Yup, I got lucky,” Elian said.
That seemed to satisfy our investigative reporter. She playfully batted the balloon around and assured us she would NOT let go of it this time.
After Lexi went to bed, Elian told me he had never seen Lexi so devastated as when she had let go of that balloon. So after he finished building the fence, he went to Wal-Mart to purchase her an identical balloon.
I’m not sure Lexi will remember this as she gets older, but I hope she does. I will remember it forever. Daddies are so vital to daughters, and through the simple act of getting Lexi a replacement balloon for $2, Elian showed Lexi the perfect balance of hero/provider/comforter. It spoke volumes to me, as her mother, about how fully Elian loves his daughters. He is the best dad ever.
Even if he had to lie.