Graduation season is here. Many, and I mean MANY of my friends have kids graduating high school this year. (Yup, I have old friends. Haha…. just kidding. Kinda!) Some have already graduated. Some are getting ready to graduate. Just walk into any Wal-Mart or Target and you’ll see the “Congrats Grad” displays with cap and gown teddy bears, cards, balloons, and class of ’19 items. It’s like being greeted with a simple, slap-in-the-face reminder that someone you know is probably graduating and you should pick up a card, or twelve.
After you’ve picked out the perfect graduation card and you finally have a chance to look at your list for what you need in the store, the next display stops you in your tracks. That’s right, Father’s Day is just a few days away. Here’s your chance to pick up a little something for dad. And hey, you’ve got options: cards, balloons, miniature tool sets, car detailing gift baskets, the ever-hilarious novelty bathroom trivia books, and shirts that read “DAD BOD” across the front.
Just as one display is phasing out another display is being set up: Fourth of July, Back to School, Labor Day, Halloween, Veterans’ Day, Marine Corps Birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas….. you get the picture. And in between each of those holidays are birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, funerals, new babies, showers, etc. Between Hallmark, Wal-Mart and Target, we have no excuse to forget our loved ones on special occasions.
If it sounds like I am being a Negative Nancy about all these wonderful occasions, I most definitely am not. I love holidays. I love cards. I love receiving flowers (hint hint). I love joining my friends and family in celebrating special occasions. What I don’t like, however, are balloons.
Mylar balloons are fine but latex balloons are not. I really don’t know what happened between my childhood and adult life but at some point, something triggered a very real fear of balloons.
Go ahead and laugh. I wouldn’t blame you if you did. I mean, how does a fear like this just happen? When I was younger, I played many games involving popping balloons and competing in balloon races. I even liked to suck out the helium and talk in a funny high-pitched voice along with my friends – but then again, what kid doesn’t?
But here I am, with a fear of balloons. Check it out… it even has a name: globophobia. I’ve had it for years. At least, ever since Landon was born. I remember this one time when he was little, maybe 18 months old, and when we left Applebee’s, the waitress game him a balloon. We were driving home and I could hear his little fingers pulling at the latex and something just came over me. My skin started crawling (even sitting here remembering that moment is giving me the heebie-jeebies). Since that day, when Landon was given a balloon anywhere, as I held the balloon to get him into the car, I would let it go and tell him “ooops, mommy lost your balloon.” I know… I’m a bad mom. And those weren’t my proudest moments. But the fear I had when he was holding a balloon was truly painful. So as he grew older the only balloons allowed were Mylar. And I made sure he always had one at his birthday parties. See, I made up for being a terrible, no-good, balloon-losing mom.
My close friends already know this about me. So to them, it’s nothing new. We can joke about it. But they also know the seriousness of it. It’s always been hard to explain to new people about my fear because they think I am pulling their leg. It’s usually hard for them to fathom that someone can actually be afraid of balloons. Sometimes, new people think it’s funny to test my fear and jokingly torture me by bringing balloons around me.
Just a heads up folks: This is how a friendship with me ends.
DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT chase me with a balloon.
One of the sweetest moments this past year was when I was invited to a birthday party for my friend’s daughter. Before the party, she called me to ask if balloons would be OK if they were away from me. I didn’t want to be the reason for the lack of party decorations so I told her it would be fine but to just let her family know not to chase me with them (I was being dead serious). I also made sure she knew I could skip out and not come so that she could surprise her daughter with balloons and that it wouldn’t hurt my feelings at all. When I showed up to the party, I walked in, and the room was filled with Mylar balloons. MYLAR! These balloons are at least 3 times the price – if not more – than regular latex balloons. Oh my heart! My sweet, wonderful and amazing friend wanted to make sure I had a good time at the party. And I did.
You know how, during the Fourth of July celebrations, when people give out reminders on Facebook and even the news channel will make mention about being considerate of pets and the sounds of firecrackers??? Well, here is your friendship-with-Anne reminder: Anne doesn’t like balloons. (But she will gladly accept coffee, beer and student loan donations!)