I watched the man give the small child a big, bright balloon. The smile on his little face lit up the room. You would have thought he just received the keys to the kingdom. Well, perhaps, that is just what he did get. You see, to a child, a balloon is a most wonderful thing. You can tell how much they are cherished by the reactions when they pop or when they escape from those small little hands. Tears streaming down broken faces as they hold the pathetic remains of their most prized item or when they stand there, helpless, watching their balloon go up, up, and away.
This scene reminded me of a time many years ago, when my daughter and I went to the local grocery store. She was not yet strong enough to walk through the store on her own, so she sat in the child's seat of the shopping cart. At the entrance of the store was the floral department, and we had gotten to know the lady who worked there on Saturday mornings. She was always busy making the bouquet arrangements and setting them out for the customers. Because the aromas were so inviting and the colors so vibrant, my daughter and I would linger for a moment in the area, just looking and taking it in. One day the florist gave my daughter a plump yellow balloon attached to a string that she carefully tied to the handle of the shopping cart. A child's smile never shone so brightly.
When we had finished our shopping, we headed out to the car to pack it up for the drive home. My daughter thought that she would help by untying her balloon so that I could put it in the backseat for her. Her reactions were not fast enough, and the streamer trailed through her fingers before she knew it. With my back to the whole scene, I was alerted to the trouble by a loud cry. By the time I figured out what had happened, her balloon was 100 feet up in the air and a prisoner of the swirling updraft. The florist in the store saw the whole thing and immediately came running out with a new pink balloon. The tears were instantly dried and what was lost was replaced. My daughter told me that she liked the pink balloon better and she wrapped that ribbon leash around her hand so tightly.
This period of time when balloons are so revered only lasts a short time. A brief season of innocence, when small things bring the deepest joys and the biggest smiles. Oh that we grown-ups could learn a lesson from our children and appreciate the little things with deep joy and big smiles.