How Times Have Changed

“Mom, what’s a water balloon?”

“Um. Um. It’s something that I used to do when I was a kid that was really, um, fun but it left lots of little shreds of latex lying around and so, um, well, just thank heavens your aunts didn’t choke to death.”

Last night’s conversation started after a trip to the grocery store. We are in Germany and one thing I’ve learned is you can’t go into a public building of any kind with young children and not be offered one of the following 3 items: processed pork meat, gummi bears or latex balloons. No joke. If we’d wandered by the meat counter, you can guess what the girls would have been busy chomping on but instead we were on a Diet Coke (mine!) mission and the check out lady took pity on their grubby, empty little hands. And, you guessed it, out came the basket of latex balloons.

We all know how I feel about the latex balloon, don’t we?
But the girls are well past the age of 4 and Zoe routinely lists the dangers of latex to anyone who offers their younger brother a balloon, so I’ve started relaxing a bit when it’s just the girls and it’s a single balloon each. (That way I can easily track the buggers and promptly remove any post-inflation remnants.) But while I am ever so vigilant about balloons, I am less careful with my language and that’s how, oops, the idea of the water balloon came about.
Quick thinking, quick thinking, what was I going to do? On one hand my childhood was littered with dead balloons and I’m still here. It was (whispered in hushed tones) really super fun. Why am I being such a stick in the mud and denying my children the awesomeness of a water balloon fight? After a few seconds of deliberation, I decided to go for it. “You guys can have water balloon tomorrow when your brother is asleep. If it’s warm out. Now, give those to me for safe-keeping and let’s go home.”
My plan obviously was to go for an “out of sight, out of mind” kind of thing. We’ll see how it goes. Today they haven’t yet mentioned it, given the onslaught of processed pork and gummi bears that continued upon awakening. Actually, at the drugstore the clerk offered them what appeared to be a flavored sugar cube. (Even more hilarious is buying the girls a little pig shaped soap for their bath tonight (bribery!) and having Zoe ask gleefully, “Does it really make us smell like sausages?”) Truly outstanding, isn’t it?
Anyhoo, back to the balloons. Times are different, aren’t they? When I was a kid, I doubt my mother gave them too much thought. And this is a woman who invented her own car seat for me. Without divulging my age, I’ll just say that infant car seats weren’t really widespread and definitely toddler seats weren’t. But if you look photos of me when I was young, I’m wearing this harness contraption that supposedly she could strap into the seat belt. And before that she had some kind of baby carrier that she wedged into the floor mats behind the driver’s seat. Yes, I know. Not ideal. Far from it. But still. The point was that my mother was a car seat demanding, hot dog refusing, safety machine of the 70’s. Yet she let me play with balloons. Does this mean my mom didn’t have her eye on safety? No. Hardly. It means she wasn’t necessarily aware that she needed to include the innocuous water balloon in the list of things most likely to harm me.
Times have changed. Which is exactly the sentiment of a great post over at The Vaccine Advocate this week that ties into my series appearing now on Shot of Prevention. Now in the interest of full disclosure, A. Z. Naprawa is Amanda Zibners Naprawa. Have you made the connection? Anyway, she wrote a great post about growing up in a very safety minded home yet with a lot fewer worries on our parents’ part. Just like having to worry about whether your kids’ friends are vaccinated. Which is what I’ve been addressing over at Shot of Prevention. So go check them both out. While I find my children’s toothbrushes and wrestle them into a bath where they come out smelling like clean children.