This sucker’s days are numbered… (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)

Sarah Simpson column: A birthday balloon horror story

I stepped over a frog getting into my bed the other night. Not a real frog, mind you, just a toy one. Much like the stretchy lizard situation in my house, we tend to have a small frog or two hanging from the ceiling from time to time. This one must have dropped.

It didn’t faze me that much. I’m starting to soften in my old age…well, since having kids and being too tired to keep everything in perfect order (and stretchy plastic critters off the ceiling), which is what I’d prefer. But I won’t lie, I did end up getting out of bed to pick it up and put it on my nightstand. That’s kind of how I am. A place for everything and everything in its place.

My son recently had his fifth birthday. He’s a shy kid so we didn’t get up to much. One of our traditions, though, is birthday balloons — just a bunch of regular ones and one of those special helium-filled mylar balloons. The problem with balloons is there really is no proper place to put them away. They kind of float around as they please. It drives me crazy.

Anyway, the very last thing I do before I go to bed for the night is check on the kids. One tends to sleep perilously close to the edge of the bed and the other seems to have this aversion to any type of blanket and I’m forever trying to cover her up.

It was a few nights after the night I found the frog on my floor. I had left my room to check on the kids when I saw what looked like a floating head at the end of the darkened (and typically empty!) hall. I’m not too proud to admit it scared the bajesus out of me. For a second anyway. It turned out to be that silly mylar balloon. I should have known. My son loves to let go of his helium balloons in the entryway so that they float up two floors. That way his sister can’t play with them. That’s siblings for you. Not only can his sister not reach them, nobody else can either unless we pull out the vacuum or a lacrosse stick and lean perilously over the pony wall at the end of the upstairs hallway.

Mildly spooked, I did my final check on the kids and went to bed. Not long thereafter I was awakened by the most disturbing sound. It’s hard to explain but it was a crinkling but also shwacking sound. Imagine manipulating a sheet of tin foil at the same time as slamming it down on the counter over and over again.

What was that!? I wondered to myself.

The balloon’s aim that night was to haunt me, I swear. It was a warm night. The ceiling fans were on upstairs. The balloon had gotten caught up in the airflow and was sucked into the fan in my son’s room and rattled away until we removed it. What a disturbing noise. My son didn’t stir despite my standing in his room cursing at his birthday balloon.

Enough with that darn balloon! I thought to myself. Scare me once, shame on it. Scare me twice shame on me!

I put it in the bathroom off the hallway because there was no fan on in there, then I went back to bed.

I thought I’d won.

But the balloon wasn’t done.

Some time later, it managed to escape the bathroom and make its way into my room where I was sound asleep. It got sucked into my ceiling fan and the resulting crinkle-shwack, crinkle-shwack, crinkle-shwack, awoke me with a jolt. To an outsider, I’m sure it would have been pretty funny but it was all I could do not to rip my poor son’s birthday balloon to pieces.

Instead I jammed the silly thing in my closet, closed the sliding door tight and went back to bed. Sleep overcame me. Finally.

The next morning I went to my closet to get my clothes for the day.

The balloon popped up as I opened the door, startling me, and giving it the last laugh.

I think we might need to rethink our birthday traditions.



sarah.simpson@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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