SOLSC Day 3: Pop

We have the coolest dentist in the world.  He is charming and funny and friendly.  He even makes balloon animals for the kids after their check-up!  So, Maddie and Katie were quite happy with their balloon puppy and balloon monkey as we left the office yesterday.

We were about three blocks away when I heard it.


Balloon Puppy was gone, and Maddie was sobbing.  Gasping for breath, snot running down her face, tears streaming.  “Can we please go back, Mommy?” she wailed. “Please??  My puppy!  My puppy!”

Although I was tempted to turn the car around, I thought: No, that’s ridiculous.  We’re not going back.  She has to learn.

What, exactly, does Maddie have to learn?  That bad things happen in life?  That sometimes you get a cute gift from somebody, and it blows up in your face moments later?  That balloon puppies (and even people) die?  That there is heartbreak in the world?  That mommy can’t fix everything? That you can’t go marching back into a dentist’s office asking for another balloon animal?  That sometimes your balloon animal pops but your sister’s doesn’t and too bad for you?  That life sucks?

We drove all the way home – 15 long minutes – with Maddie sobbing.  I just kept saying, “I know, Maddie.  I’m sorry.”  By the time we pulled into our driveway, Maddie’s face was red and wet, her eyes nearly swollen shut.  She was so, so sad.  We stood there in the driveway, hugging and mourning the loss of Balloon Puppy.

Then we heard a soft voice, “I will share with you, Maddie.”  We turned to look at Katie, her own eyes wet with tears, holding Balloon Monkey.

Maybe there is a lesson here, after all.  Maybe Maddie has to learn that sad things will happen, but when they do, you’ll find your sister in your corner.  Maybe she needs to learn that no, Mommy can’t fix everything, but a hug from Mommy sure does feel good.  Maybe she needs to learn that sometimes it just feels good to cry and your sister will usually cry with you.  Maybe Maddie has to learn that when she hurts, we hurt.  Maybe Maddie has to learn that there is pain, but there is so much love in the world, and she doesn’t have to look farther than her own sister to find it.

We grieved for Balloon Puppy for a few more minutes. Then we wiped off our tears and went inside.  We had lunch, a pop in visit at my sister’s house, and a surprise arrival and sleepover from my mom.  Daddy came home, and there were hugs and reports of no cavities. Maddie recounted the short life of Balloon Puppy to my mom, but there were no tears.  Life moves on.

And we still think our dentist is pretty cool.

8th Annual Slice of Life Story Challenge.  Join at Two Writing Teachers.

8th Annual Slice of Life Story Challenge. Join at Two Writing Teachers.


22 thoughts on “SOLSC Day 3: Pop

  1. I can relate to this one! I often forget that is is important to my boys may seem silly to me. However, it is my job to love and comfort only. BTW I would have wanted to turn the car around too!

  2. Beautiful piece! I love how the story spun to the positive lessons we can learn in sad times. Made me think of how Mr. Rogers always said to “look for the helpers” in times of tragedy. How sweet and moving that your daughter shared with her sister!

  3. A simple trip to the dentist led to some really big life lessons. I love how you kept encouraging her to be sad and without asking a solution was found from your other daughter.

  4. Your dentist sounds amazing. What’s even more amazing is how Maddie’s sister helped her through a difficult situation. You shared an important life lesson in a way where we can all smile at the ending.

  5. The dentist visit sounds wonderful, and the way you handled this is, too, Melanie. It seems to me that you learned a few mom lessons too, and oh the way Katie stepped in to be so loving makes me feel very good about the world.

  6. As a mother, this is a scenario I can relate too. Broken and lost object sis not uncommon in our home (particular new and special objects). The way that this way expressed by you gave me a great deal of perspective.

  7. Oh, I have been there, asking myself those same questions that you asked when your child is in the backseat, beside herself with disappointment and you know you can’t go back, but you want to. I love the lessons that grew from that hurt. Those were worth learning. Beautifully written! Thanks for sharing!

  8. Balloons have taught my kids lessons too. Like, when I say, please hold onto that balloon tightly, it was not just a friendly suggestion. Glad she was able to move on in a positive way!

  9. My heart goes out to Maddie. What a hard lesson to learn at any age. I applaud Katie for generosity and willingness to share. That speaks loads to how she was brought up. Kudos to you and your husband for that.

  10. awwww— I totally expected you to turn around and go back. Those moments are so hard. All those lessons to be learned. Powerful way to write a slice.

  11. Oh My, Dana, this piece says so much about you as a mom. You didn’t take the easy way out….(going back) instead, you thought about the lessons learned about loss, love and family. I love this more than I can say!

  12. This is beautiful Dana! What will power you have and what priceless life lessons resulted from Balloon Puppy! And may I add what a beautiful bond Maddie and Katie have already begun to build!

  13. I am sobbing over here! This is my favorite post of yours so far! I have an almost identical story about Lily– (Pizza Putt, birthday party, stormy night…) and I just couldn’t think of anything to say to her except, “I know… I’m sorry… I’m sad too Lily…) except Lily didn’t have anybody to offer her a balloon to share and so I’ve always remembered that moment as just the saddest thing ever. Sometimes there aren’t happy endings…. but sometimes there are!

  14. Life lessons … I’m living through these too with lots of acknowledgment of feelings and I’m sorry. But I love how those lessons turned around! I’ve seen moments like this at my house with my two girls. Too precious!

  15. So touching….it really made me think about all those moments where we have to determine how to handle disappointment….and to have Katie there, so lend a hand, or monkey as the case may be, just shows how bonded they are:)

  16. Musings of a Mom…ever questioning what is right. I am glad that you went with your gut and it turned out for the best. 🙂 You are the best slicer…You are always able to turn a typical mommy moment into a life lesson. Love it!

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