September 17, 2012.
A couple of months ago my daughter turned ten and I had (what I thought was) a great idea to have a "Wipe Out" Birthday Party. For the first time ever we had a pool and how fun would it be watch ten year old girls hurl themselves at big red balls in my pool? If you are not familiar with the Wipe Out TV Game show it is basically an obstacle course where grown adults make complete fools of themselves jumping into a Rube Goldberg Machines. My kids love watching the show, I cringe and cover my eyes worrying about things like health care, hospital visits, broken bones & dental surgeries.
So as the party grew closer a few things were very apparent:
- Most of her friends were on vacation
- I had no idea how to turn my pool/backyard into a Wipe Out worthy obstacle course
- My daughter had no desire to help me with the planning of the party
The Awesome Idea
We already had a number of large colored beach & yoga balls to jump on in the pool and I figured we could use those, rafts, noodles and such for an obstacle course. However I was totally stumped how to make it "look" like the Wipe Out Game Show. I was talking to a creative friend and she suggested getting big red round balloons and tying them to rocks and putting them in the center of the pool. Three big red ones - like the TV show. Abby even liked the idea - we would just tie them an anchor and put them in the pool....ya, great idea.
I had waited too long to order them online so I headed to Party City (you remember Party City right? The company that used my home for a commercial in 2011). Of course the red balloons were not in one package - no problem, I just purchased the 3 packages of 9 36 inch balloons....ya balloons that would/could be 3 feet in circumfrance when blown up to capacity. Then, I made the amazing stupid decision to get 9 of them (3 red of course, 3 blue & 3 yellow) filled with helium.
I assumed (wrongly) they would never fill them up that big. I aslo told the cashier I had never purchased these before. He said nothing, made no indicuation that these balloons would be overly extra humungous. Nothing. He just took my money and off we went.
The Dreaded Party Day
The day of the party came and we had a sort of loose idea of what the obstacle course would look like. My daughter and I headed to Party City to collect our balloons. I asked the woman behind the counter where were our balloons and handed her my receipt. She asked me if I saw them anywhere, I looked around and said no. Then Abby turned around and pointed to the ceiling. This is what we saw:
My first sign that this may not turn out well should have been when the cashier started laughing hysterically when she saw the size of my car - it is a medium sized SUV at best. She then started babbling about how people (not me) would rent vans, trucks or even special vehicles to transport these super large over sized balloons to parties. Me, with no laughing or sene of humor at this point asked why no one mentioned this to me. Her response was to just giggle and ask if I had a convertible....ya, no.
Red Balloon Experiment #1
We were able to place shove one of the monstrocity of balloons in the back of my SUV, then while trying to put shove another one in, it popped (synch my ten year old starts to do a very quiet whimper). We then left the store with just one balloon and told the woman I would be back for the others. I first tried to see if a friend could pick up the other baloons, but realized she did not own a van, semi or a motor home so that would not work. About half way home I had the brilliant idiotic idea that since I had a sun room we could drive home with the balloons out the top of the sun roof.
Red Balloon Experiment #2
I left my daughter in the car and marched into Party City to get my other (seven, minus the one I popped) balloons. I grabbed 3 small floats and marched out the door, first knocking over a display of candy and almsot taking out a guy in a wife beater tank top (yeah me). Right out the front door the first balloon popped for no reason other than....it was FILLED WITH MOST LIKELY TOO MUCH HELIUM. I then tried not to fly away as I brought the balloons over to my daughter. She took the remaining two and I went back in the store for two more.
As I struggled with two more balloons I noticed that Abby had only one balloon ( if you are doing the math that is 3 balloons down) and she was crying...and she wasd crying hard. The closer I got to the car I realized she was not only crying but she was yelling, "NOOOOO more!" "No more balloons!". I tried to calm her down and give her the two balloons I had - she would have nothing of it. "NOOOOOOOOO MOOOORE BALLLOOONSSS!" She yelled between tears, snot and hiccups. I had a little tantrum of my own and sort of forced her to hold the last two balloons and we headed home.
So, now we have three 3 foot x 3 foot balloons poking out the roof of my SUV....sort of looking like the house from Up, had the old cranky guy owned a car - I am clearly playing the old cranky guy at this point. Abby is holding on to these three balloons and I am sweating. I slowly pulled out of our parking spot and the first balloon popped (that would be 4th balloon down). At this point Abby started crying and screaming, "My birthday is ruined! My birthday is ruined!". I being the cool minded and totally in control Mom start (not proud) yelling as I realize we are not going to get home with any...BANG!....another balloon popped. The tears and the yelling (Abby not me) are at the point of no return...she starts hyperventalating about the damn balloons (mind you we are not even out of the parking lot yet). I keep driving slowly around the corner and as I drive over a speed bump, BANG! the third balloon pops.
Red Solo Balloon
I am not a mathemetician but I am doing the math in my head and realize that we have one balloon in he car, we have popped 4 and the chances of this one balloon making it to the party are slim at best. Abby has stopped crying but is seriously hiccupping and moaning about how her party is ruined. I try as best as I can to calm her as I clutch the steering wheel, freaking out about my "obstacle course" that will not be.
We pulled into the driveway and I opened the back of my SUV. I slowly started to pull the one red balloon out of the back of my car. If I did not mention before it is like a 10o degrees and I am sweating. I slowly pull the one lone balloon out of my car and.......wait for it....BANG! it pops.
Balloons 5 - Mom 0. Epic fail on my part.