Fly away

Some post reading music.  Fly away by Poe

Sunday, while we were at our friend Matt’s parent’s house for Jillian’s birthday party, we realized something surprising.  Emma completely came unglued when she realized there were balloons outside tied to chairs.  I’ve never seen the girl so frantic.  Frantic isn’t even the right word for it.  She was panic stricken She was desperately holding onto the balloon string while screaming in terror that it was going to float away.  And yes, she was actually screaming as though she had broken her leg.  Dan & I went running out to see what could be so wrong because we’ve never heard her be like this before.  That’s when we discovered that she was freaking out about the balloons.  She was sobbing and stomping her feet and generally having a breakdown.  She wanted us to take them all inside and then she insisted on eating in the house with them even though that meant she would be alone. 

While this may not sound like a big deal for some kids, Emma has always been my brave girl.  Sometimes, she scares me with her courage.  Having grown up a fearful child myself and now a fearful adult, I decided when I was pregnant that I would not be that mom.  You know who I’m talking about.  The mom that won’t let her kid do anything because they just might get hurt.  I made a promise to myself and to Dan that I wouldn’t let my fears be passed onto our kids and that is a promise I’ve always tried to keep because I feel it is just so important that they don’t let fear control their lives.

Having said that, Emma has never had a problem with fear.  She’s developed this thing about bugs lately but who can blame a girl for that?  She’ll climb up a 10ft climbing wall without batting an eye (although I was right behind her, praying silently in my head).  She’ll jump off of things and never startles at loud noises.  So this fear of the balloon flying away is just so silly. 

Dan & I know that it came from Emilee’s birthday party when a little girl lost her balloon.  The little girl was obviously upset as her balloon floated away and we just told the kids to hang onto them tight or theirs would go up and be gone too.  It didn’t really seem to affect her then.  But we can see now that something clicked in her head about the incident. 

When were at Jillian’s, I asked her what she was so scared of and she told me that if the balloon floated away, it would be gone forever.  She didn’t verbalize it any better than that.  Just that it would be gone forever and she would miss it.  So I’m guessing it has to do more with Dan being gone in Indiana for those 3months than it has to do with actually losing a balloon.  But I don’t know for sure.  It’s hard to get into the psyche of a 4yr old.

Sometimes, Dan is a genius and this time was one of those occasions.  He told Emma that we should write a  message and tie it to their balloons and let them go so someone could find them.  He asked her who she thought would find it and after considering it for a minute, she told us that either Dora or Diego would because they are explorers.  Makes total sense to me.

After dinner at his parent’s house, they wrote a note and tied it to the balloons.  The whole family gathered outside to watch at her request.  It really was a big deal to her.  As she walked outside with it, she had both hands tightly fisted around the string and made Dan hold it too with her.  When we were all out in the backyard with her, she looked at Dan & she trustingly released her balloon into the air when he said it was time.  We all clapped and watched it until it became a tiny dot in the sky.

I thought about how symbolic that was for all of us.  Taking our worst fear and letting it float away from us.  Trusting in someone that it’ll really be ok.  It took a lot of courage for her to believe that it was ok and let go of that string.  I’m really proud of her and I’m really proud of my husband for being so smart.  He shows me in so many ways how to be a better parent and I’m eternally grateful for that.  It almost makes up for the messes he makes 🙂

Gerrit & Claire with his balloon

Bye Gerrit’s balloon!

Dan, Claire, Emma & Gerrit watching the balloons flying away

Dan & Emma watching her balloon float over the trees

Emma’s balloon is that tiny yellow dot


About Chris

These are the pieces of my life and those that make it worth living
This entry was posted in Dan & Chris, My family, Other Peeps, The kids, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Fly away

  1. VforVelocity says:

    Wow, what a great story Chris!

  2. You and Dan are really good at children’s psychology! I liked reading this story and looking at the photos, but I forgot to comment earlier this month. 😀 I hope you are having a great weekend!

  3. Chris says:

    Thanks FW! If by ‘really good at children’s psychology’, you mean ‘masters of emotional manipulation’… then yes, we are 😉

  4. James says:

    My 5-year old autistic son has the same fear of ballons flying away. I just showed him the photos on your site and he became agitated at seeing the balloon float away. I asked him about tying a note to the balloon, and that didn’t make much difference. He is sad for the balloon because it rapidly becomes more alone by the second. I think he may see himself as the balloon (as oppose to seeing the balloon as dad). When he sees a real balloon float away, he cries pofusely. He also cries profusely when other kids, not him, get to blow out birthday candles and break the pinyata. We learned to grab a candle after they are blown out, light it and let him blow it out. Also, we let him beat on the pinyata long after the candy is gone and the other kids have moved onto something else. This seems to help. We haven’t cracked the balloon problem, yet. I wish I knew what was going through his mind.

  5. Chris says:

    Aw, James. That breaks my heart. It must make him think of loneliness and isolation to see himself as the balloon. I hope you can help him cope with it as best as possible. It must be very hard to get into his mind and think like he thinks. Thank you for your comments.

  6. Kelebek says:

    I read somewhere that the balloon flying away fear comes from a fear of getting lost from parents i.e. in a shopping centre etc. and the parents not being able to find them. I would assume that they are projecting their own feeling onto the balloon, in that the balloon doesn’t ‘want’ to fly away, just as they don’t ‘want’ to be lost. In turn this is related to secure attachment and sense of secure base so I’d imagine bond and trust promoting activities would be beneficial during this developmental phase. As a nanny I’ve cared for 2 kids with this fear and I know the distressed screams and frantic behaviour that goes with it, an upsetting sight for a professional let alone a parent 🙂

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