On blessings and loss
It was almost Halloween. My 3-year-old and his baby brother’s costumes had been bought, tried on, and approved weeks ago. They were going to be Batman and Robin. My wife planned on being Catwoman, and I…well I had no idea what I was going to be.
Not wanting to be the lone doofus responsible for messing up the family costume “theme” I Googled other Batman characters. Bane! Nope, too scrawny. Plus, I’d have to ditch the hair and beard to even remotely be recognizable as him. Not enough time to order the mask anyway. The Joker? Yeah…I’m really not into face paint and again, beard would have to go. Also, surprisingly, I don’t own a purple suit.
I tried to think of something simpler. Commissioner Gordon! That’d be easy enough, right? Horn-rimmed glasses, mustache, and a trench coat. Except the fact that people wouldn’t recognize who I was supposed to be, and that’s basically “how to look like a creepy molester” 101. Dangit.
Sullivan (my 3-year-old) and I happened to be driving by one of those Halloween costume stores. I figured it’d be worth a shot to see if they had a Joker mask that would let me skip the face paint, keep the beard, and just be the loser who couldn’t throw together a full costume.
As we’re walking the aisles (not finding what I need) a nice lady who worked at the store asked Sullivan if he’d like a balloon. His eyes lit up, he bent his knees, and started to bounce up and down in excitement. “Yeah!” he said. I reminded him that we say “Yes please,” but she was already gone to grab the balloon. “Make sure to say thank you,” I told him before she got back. We’re always working on manners.
She returned quickly with a white balloon covered in black spots so that it looked like a cow.
“Awesome!” He grabbed the white ribbon and looked up at the balloon with a huge smile. “Thank you!”
We browsed around a few more minutes and left.
The whole way home, he stared at that balloon bumping against the ceiling of the car, still grinning.
When we pulled into our driveway, I opened his door, picked him up out of his car seat, and immediately heard an eardrum-bursting scream.
I turned my head to see what had happened, and saw two little arms reaching straight up, hands grasping at the sky, and a white balloon with black spots quickly floating towards the clouds.
His head was thrown back, and he was crying inconsolably as he watched his balloon get higher and higher, smaller and smaller.
I started five or six different sentences in a row, my mind racing through a million different ways to make everything okay.
“Maybe he just wanted to see his friend, the plane, Dusty Crophopper!”
“I promise we’ll get you another balloon!”
“Look how fast it’s flying up there, it’s like a spaceship!”
“How cool would it be if it made it all the way to outer space?!”
It was almost nap time (which may have contributed slightly to the meltdown…) so we went inside.
I tried to remind myself that while it was just a free balloon that would’ve either popped or run out of helium in a couple of days anyway, it was special to him, if only for the few minutes he got to enjoy it.
When he woke up from his nap, he had seemingly forgotten all about the whole debacle, and everything was fine.
A couple of weeks later, something came on tv (about a birthday party, I think) and suddenly Sully says to me, “Hey Dad, remember when I got that cow balloon?”
Suddenly I’m wondering how we’ll avoid all potentially-balloon-related events for the rest of his life.
I said, “Yeah buddy, I remember.”
A humongous smile pushed his cheeks up to his eyes and he said, “That…was…AWESOME!”
Here I am trying to figure out how I’m going to deal with the inevitable meltdown, but instead of remembering how crushed he was when he lost something, he was entirely focused on how blessed he was to have it in the first place.
Sure, a balloon is a silly example, but I think the principle holds true. It’s easy to dwell on loss so much that you don’t appreciate or even remember the blessing.
I learn these crazy deep life lessons from my kids on a regular basis, and it never ceases to amaze me.
Matthew 18:2–3 says, “And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
This world makes it incredibly easy to become jaded. Negative. Skeptical.
But we always have a choice. Let us be people who choose to see the good, and who appreciate every blessing, no matter how small or short-lived.