I have the luxury of working weekends and being able to pick up our son from school most weekdays. I watch with joy as he bounces down the steps from his school happy to tell me all about the things he did during the day. Rarely does he come out upset. Never has he come out needing comfort.
Until this week. I was waiting with the other parents as we stood around making fun our kids behind their backs… as we do. The doors opened and he came flying out full of wails and tears. He looked inconsolable. The other parents parted making a red carpet like path for him to have easy access to my welcoming arms. He collapsed to the sidewalk at my knees gasping for air between his breathless screams of agony.
“Oh my son. What happened man?! What’s going on?!” I cried back to him.
“I didn’t have time to finish my stress ball!!! My stress ball! I didn’t have time when the bell rang!!!” He cried out at what to me appeared to an incommensurate amount of tears.
Perhaps I misunderstood him?
“Say that again? What’s this about?”
“We were making stress balls and I didn’t get to finish mine! It’s not done! The bell rang and it’s not done! This is the worst day of my life!!!” He yelled.
I stood stunned. The other parents watched on trying to listen in to get a clue as to what horrors must have happened inside. Several seemed to be bracing themselves for what they may face when their little bundles were released from school.
Once I understood what was happening all I could do was laugh. A lot.
“This isn’t funny! This is horrible! This is the worst day of my life!”
I restrained my laughs but spoke through a smile. “You know what you need son? A stress ball.”
“I know! I need a stress ball and I couldn’t finish mine in time. Oh!!! Why me!!!”
“No.” I added. “What’s funny here is that you need a stress ball because of this stress ball situation.”
He didn’t get the irony. I promised him we’d make some when we got home.
“But you don’t know how! You’ve never made one! This is so horrible.” He argued.
I told him we would google it. I’m sure it’s just flour and balloons. We can handle that.
But I didn’t watch the youtube video result on how to make them. I actually didn’t read anything more than what was in the search results. At home I improvised how to get the flour into the balloon by using the nozzle from a cake decorating kit. I filled it with flour and forced the powder into the balloon by blowing really hard into the nozzle. Really hard. The balloon was now full of flour and my compressed air. Once the stress ball was inflated and after pulling my mouth and nozzle from the balloon all the flour erupted from the contracting balloon back into my face. It really was a pretty spectacular scene. It was like a stylist shouted “Powder!” and then some stranger hit me with a pillow full.
The boy laughed out at what to me appeared to an incommensurate amount of joy.
And I stood there stunned, looking at him through my flour covered glasses and he said, “Now you could really use a stress ball huh dad?”
I think he learned irony.