The Yellow Balloon

Last night was a pretty typical Sunday night around our house.

My wife and I were winding down after a busy weekend with our two children, Adam, age 8 and Ashlyn, age 5. The kids’ teeth were brushed, their pyjamas on (bath time was avoided thanks to a wonderful afternoon swim at Crowfoot YMCA) and family books, our nightly reading tradition, was imminent. After a hectic weekend attending the Calgary International Children’s Festival, doing the necessary clean and tidy required to get us through the week, baseball, ballet and the other routines of a young family, we were all pretty ready to be done for the night.

Then, someone blew up a yellow balloon.

My son, always up for a spontaneous game, tapped the balloon and sent it soaring across the living room. My wife, equally game, tapped it back. My daughter quickly got in on the action. Then, emerging from another room to see what was happening, I found the uncovered corner and joined in.

The goal was to slap and pass, push and bash that balloon, avoiding the pointy ceiling and the forbidden hardwood floor.

“Mommy, it’s yours!”

“Adam, hit it!”

“Ha, Dad, it got you in the nose!”

As we played, we talked. We talked about working as a team. We encouraged and cheered each other on. We worked on strategy — slowing down the tempo once in a while, then pounding that balloon for maximum effect and velocity.

Ashlyn squealed with delight each time she took the yellow balloon in an unexpected direction, usually off a parent’s body part. With some encouragement, Adam resisted the urge to hog the balloon from his smaller sister, not always his default position, and soaked up the praise. Mom and Dad enjoyed those love-filled looks parents share when their kids are being simply amazing.

The game went on for 20 minutes. We were totally connected as a family.

We all felt a little lighter.