On Learning Experiences

Let me preface this story by saying that I hate balloons…

Let me preface this story by saying that I hate balloons.  I hate them with a violence that most would consider wholly unreasonable.  I tend to threaten bodily harm to anyone who introduces large numbers of balloons into my environment.

Balloons make noises.  They make that straining, stretchy noise when blown up, they make that nails-on-chalkboard scratching noise when rubbed, and they pop.  The popping is particularly upsetting.

That said, I was checking out at the grocery store today when a small child (who could not have been more than two) at the next register popped his balloon.

I flinched.  The cavernous store with its vast concrete floors amplified the sound such that it more resembled a gunshot than a measly little rubber sack rapidly losing structural integrity and deflating.  That is to say, it was really freakishly loud.

Normally, my next reaction would be something borne of extreme agitation; yelling obscenities if in the company of friends, giving the stink eye to strangers.  But I’m on such a cute-baby-high from the latest set of pictures from my brother, and the mother was so mortified, and the kid looked so bewildered with popped balloon bits in one hand and his mother’s keys in the other… I just couldn’t help but smile.

The mother started frantically apologizing to anyone within earshot, and then turned to the kid.

“Why did you do that?”

I smiled and responded, “Because you gave him something shiny!”

Obviously, he felt an innate desire to test what happens when Material A (shiny key) was applied to Material B (bright red balloon), andgot some very conclusive results.  More importantly, he learned something from his experiment, and I suggested as much to his mother as he vehemently turned down a shiny new blue balloon offered by an employee.

…and even more importantly, I now have one more soldier in my war against those bad, evil, noise-making balloons.