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ODDS & ENDS
The Balloon Lesson
Teachings of a Three Year Old... Turned Tyke

by Hal Evan Caplan
August 30, 2008

The Balloon Lesson_Hal Evan Caplan-Teachings of a Three Year Old... Turned TykeMy little tyke teaches me lessons... the things he teaches me just stun me. Sometimes the lessons are actually fairly savvy solutions to issues currently at hand. The thing that amazes me the most is I usually don’t think of the same solution in order to resolve an issue the way my teacher does.

Over the last 4 to 6 months, my wife and I have been seriously thinking about buying a new car. Her SUV has high mileage on it, and the extended warranty was about to expire with only 1,000 miles remaining. Usually this would not be an issue; however it seemed that lately her vehicle was in the service department more than it was in our garage at home.

We told my teacher our plans to go to the dealership to look at vehicles. It was interesting to see my teacher go through a series of emotions. First, he got mad. Then he got upset because he loved "Mommy's Saturn" and he wanted us to keep it. I was able to side track him by telling him that he would be able to sit in all kinds of different cars at the dealership and pretend that he was driving. Then, I brought up the fact that the dealership had convertibles. I had to back track quickly and explain that we were not getting a convertible...but he could sit in one.

Once we arrived at the dealership, my teacher actually made himself at home. He immediately changed the TV channel to the Disney channel and parked himself in the lounge on one of the seats in front of the TV.

Our neighbor friend, Burt, works at the dealership. The moment my teacher saw Burt, he was non-stop. He began to show Burt all of the different cars in the show room and talked a mile a minute. Luckily Burt was actually our salesman and he was in the process of helping us look for a vehicle.

Then it was my turn to occupy my teacher while my wife and Burt chatted about the different options and choices. In the middle of the showroom floor was a beautiful Saturn convertible, the "Sky" and of course I climbed in. It didn't take long for my "co-pilot" to board. We pretended to be driving fast around corners as I made the screeching sound of the tires as we played. This of course was boring to my teacher and didn't last long because we weren't "really-really" driving, as my teacher put it.

"Dad." He called, even though I was sitting right next to him.
"Yes." I replied.
"Check it out." He continued.
"Check what out?" I asked.

I looked over towards my teacher and he was looking straight up and making funny faces. So, of course, I looked up. There were mirrors on the ceiling. About this time another salesman, Ed, walked over and asked my teacher if he wanted a balloon. My teacher is a sucker for helium balloons and took Ed up on his balloon offer.

My teacher and Ed walked over to the helium balloon machine, which was in plain view of the car I was sitting in. Upon returning with the balloon in hand, my teacher climbing back into the convertible car I was sitting in and again looked up. This time he sprawled his arms, fully extended, across the seats, and made a comment that had my laughing for sometime.

"Isn't this the life?" He said as he turned and looked at me with a smile.

Let me put it this way...I was sipping some bottled water at the exact moment that my teacher made his comment, and the water came out my nose.

Finally, we choose the car we wanted and we signed mounds of paper work in order for the car to be considered "ours". Then we removed all of our personal belongings from the old Saturn and placed them in the new Saturn.

My teacher immediately climbed in the new car with his balloon. Ed, who had given my teacher the balloon, happened to be standing there at that moment and had a concerned look on his face.

Ed leaned in the front door and expressed that maybe my teacher should not keep the balloon. I over heard the conversation and stepped over to the new car and leaned in to listen to Ed's concern, with the balloon.

"Maybe having this balloon in the car is a bad idea." Ed expressed.
"Why is it not a good idea?" My teacher asked.
"Because I'm afraid that the balloon is going to blow all over the place during the drive home and get in your mom’s way." The Ed concluded.

"I agree with "Mr. Ed", I indicated, jumping into their conversation, "that the balloon will get in the way of Mommy's view when she is driving."

"It won't go anywhere." He declared.
"Yes it will. It's a balloon and balloons bounce all over the place in cars." I reminded him.
"Not if you do it right." He emphasized.
"But it's a balloon and that's what balloons do in cars in the wind." I repeated.
"Dad, I have an idea, so the balloon won't do that." He replied.

Okay, I have to admit, I was eager to hear this one... "How do you plan on stopping the balloon from going all over the place?" I asked as I stepped back and stood beside Ed.

My teacher looked around inside the car, pulled up a blanket from the back and responded, "I'll just put it under the blanket so it won't flip-flop around inside of the car."

The salesman and I looked at each other for a second...both of us just taken back by the good idea. Ed just shook his head and walked away saying that he would never have thought of that...and I would have to agree.

In a nutshell, the lesson that I learned that day is: There is always an answer to a problem if you just take the time to think about a solution.

About the Author:
Originally from Colorado; now residing in Alabama. Hal is married and has a son. Hal loves the outdoors, especially snowboarding and plays ice hockey on a weekly basis...and of course, always learns from his son.


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