Birthday Blues

KDBarnI dread the first week of March. Not because of calving, or that whole ‘in like a lion’ thing (although that was a little excessive this year, I think), or even because television advertisements will now start mocking us with spring merchandise. I dread March because of my son’s birthday.

Birthdays are hard. It’s not like Christmas, where everybody drops what they’re doing to honor the occasion. With birthdays there’s still school and work and sports and did I mention calving?

Somewhere in there I’m supposed to cram a party to match all the parties my child watches on his favorite cartoons, with games and songs and balloons and all that jazz. And just when I get it all lined up, we’ll get hit with a blizzard and have to cancel the whole thing.

But an effort must be made, so we went to Lethbridge, Alberta (our nearest town of reasonable size) shopping for gifts, on a day when it was so cold the customs officials on the Canadian side almost didn’t let us in, because obviously we must be either drunk or fleeing the law to want to go even farther north. Then we spent three hours sitting at stoplights whilst criss-crossing the town in search of a pogo stick.

We finally hit paydirt at Toys r Us which, being an American corporation, recognizes that some kids might want to play with a kind of stick not used to whack a puck. To their credit, there’s a reason the Canadians swept the Olympic gold medals in hockey. I also think we would be a much happier country if we followed their example and put a donut store at the entrance of every WalMart. But I digress…

Having scored the pogo stick and a couple of other random gifts, we were down to the easy part—balloons. We swung through the party aisle and were confronted with an entire rack, from glow in the dark to those long skinny ones you use to make balloon animals. Notice I said you. I mostly just pop the balloons while twisting them into weiner dogs with tails on both ends and no heads. We by-passed those in favor of big mouse-shaped balloons with built in ears. Then we grabbed half a dozen donuts and headed south, high on sugar, saturated fat and triumph.

Until our son insisted on testing out the mouse-eared balloons. As he blew up the first one, it became apparent that the ears were not inflating at the same rate as the rest of the balloon. Rather than round, the appendages were mound shaped. A very perky pair of mounds, in fact. And the part of the ear that had not inflated perched in the middle looking exactly like a nipple.

Yep, we bought our nine year old boobie balloons.

At least we found out ahead of time. Since neither of us wanted to explain to our child why he shouldn’t give his friends those balloons, we experimented until we discovered a method of inflating them so the ears fill up properly, insuring that we wouldn’t be inadvertently responsible for advancing the sex education of our party guests.

But just in case, I hid all of the pink ones.

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Kari Lynn Dell – Montana for Real