I think those balloons cost about $1.87. But of all the activities in which our grandchildren were involved the week of our “Camp 1010,” the balloons were near the top of the list. Maybe not capping the wonderful washing they gave my car!
The boys particularly (William 13 and Thomas 10) are very athletic so every day was punctuated with the sounds of the basketballs being dribbled or swishing through the nets. They all three rode bikes. They loved riding around and around our almost quarter mile paved driveway. Mattie (8) built up too much speed one evening and landed in the bushes, which scared us all, but she came through that accident like a trooper after some good ice packs and attention from Grandaddy.
One day we went to Bald Point State Park on the Ochlochnee Bay and had a marvelous time discovering crabs, even a live horseshoe crab, and seashells. Mattie was enthralled with every little seashell. Then we went to the wildlife lab in Panacea where we all had a blast handling star fish, scallops, clams and coral, as well as getting a very close view of several sharks. Eating seafood before we left the bay was a big treat. William ordered flounder tacos and ate every bit of them.
Aside from the annual Lemonade Stand (which, this year, thanks to our very generous neighbors, brought in $109 for the hungry), we made mayhaw jelly, played badminton, croquet, and corn-in-the-hole. We played a Monopoly game that became a fixture in our living room for parts of three days. And they beat me (trounced me!) in Authors cards time and time again. We made homemade playdough the day Amanda’s two little girls were part of our group, and that day Charli netted a beautiful orange butterfly.
But a great highlight of the week was the balloons.
I had intended to make slime instead of playdough, thinking the boys would like that better, but I never quite figured out the recipe, or maybe never worked up my nerve. Along in the afternoon that last full day, the girls began pleading for a teaparty, and the boys were not quite enthusiastic about that. I decided it was time to bring out the balloons. I thought they’d all, from six-year-old Charli to 13-year-old William, enjoy balloons for a few minutes.
It was an evolving activity that stretched into several hours and even the next day.
Some of the children had never blown up a balloon so it was a learning experience for them. They learned how to control their breathing, how to hold the “neck,” how to minimize their slobber, and even, eventually, how to secure the opening and have a bouncy toy instead of a deflating flutter. The fluttering, of course, brought squeals of delight.
The boys remembered that balloons pop quickly on hot asphalt. They also realized a nice full bag of balloons was available so popping them was an okay sport. The police never drove up to check on the explosions.
Aside from popping, other sounds filled the air. The balloon players became versatile in making balloon noises, some almost musical, some disgusting, and all quite hilarious to this porch crowd.
The activity gravitated to the water hose where water balloons became the new thing. The boys showed the little girls the techniques of filling the balloons with just the right amount of water. Squeals erupted as balloons of many colors popped and splatted on the asphalt (or on each other!). I stayed safe on the porch.
When Amanda came to pick up Caitlin and Charli, I instructed the children to pick up the many pieces of popped balloons and, of course, that command met with a few groans. After the little girls left, the other three straightened up the porch and each went to read in a favorite chair or corner before our much-anticipated supper with cousin Charles Douglas at Mr. Chick’s. I thought that was the end of the balloons.
The next day we had to take our three Birmingham grandchildren home. Somehow that depleted bag of balloons got in the car. And it wasn’t as depleted as I’d thought!
Driving toward Dothan we heard the sounds begin, the breathing, the squeaky twisting of inflated orbs, the deflating, the giggles. Confined safely in seatbelts those kids managed to play ball, to play a symphony of sound effects, to compete over who could blow the largest floater and much, much more.
Suddenly Thomas was bleeding from one of the warts Grandaddy had frozen for him (one of the perks of having a veterinarian Grandaddy) so we exited the highway. When Grandaddy opened the back of our vehicle to find a bandaid, a colorful river of inflated balloons escaped drifting quickly across the parking lot like live creatures. Our laughter notched to a high level when, as we drove down the service road to get back to interstate, we were actually sharing the road with a great big red balloon. When last we saw it, that balloon was bumping along on the median as if hunting for the right road.
So if you’re among the brave and the free, buy a bag of balloons (a big bag) and turn your children loose with it. You will be amazed at what develops!