Today is Tuesday: one of my "hit the ground running" days. This year, there are two of these types of days every week. Tuesday and Thursday are the days when I have to ferry three children between two different schools. And, what with schedules being the way they are (WHY can't preschool, junior and middle schools all have lunch at approximately the SAME TIME??!! I can't quite remember the "logic" behind this decision...) I find that I wind up spending the majority of my day in the car, in transit, constantly to-ing and fro-ing, with a little time for feeding (other people, not myself) in between.
So, as I was saying, today is Tuesday. Tuesday, June 12th, to be precise. And it was winding up to be a doozie of a day, because today is one of my best friends' fortieth birthday. Remember Mikey? The amazing little boy who dances up a storm? Well, today, his equally amazing mother entered her forties with great class and gusto (as she does with ALL things she undertakes, I assure you). I count myself extremely fortunate to be included in her list of "nearest and dearest" who were invited to help her celebrate... We planned to make today jam-packed with Festivities.
So, I got myself organized extra early this morning... Packed up all the cups and plates and napkins and decorations I had been accumulating for several weeks, and the girlies and I wrapped up the most enormous, pungently scented Jasmine plant as her gift... The plan was, I had to get the girlies ready and delivered to their respective schools by nine-thirty at the very latest, in order to be on time for the massive "set-up" that was going to take place before all the guests arrived for The Party.
Well, it almost worked.
I got the two eldest to their school, and then screeched into the preschool with Child Number Three... only to be tapped on the arm by one of the teachers as I was attempting to sneak back out the door to my waiting Loser Cruiser...
"I wonder, could you do something for us??" Mrs. D whispered.
Luckily, before I could make a hurried excuse, I had a little memory-flash of all the times this wonderful woman had cuddled my little daughter in her arms, reassuring her as I left each day. That image made me pause before I answered.
"Of course," I replied. "How can I help you?"
"I need a helium balloon," she said.
"A balloon? Just one helium balloon? Not a bunch?"
"Just one. I was going to get one myself last night, but I was worried it would lose its floatiness by morning, and we need it to be fresh. A Father's Day balloon, if possible," she replied.
This week, the junior nursery class has been working like mad on all of their Father's Day cards and gifts. I've been assured that they are absolute masterpieces, and the children are just bursting with excitement in anticipation of Sunday morning...
All but one child in the class. There is one little boy without a father this year... he passed away recently. It was a tremendous concern to ALL the teachers, how to handle this little boy's feelings this week; indeed, the feelings of his entire family, who are all still hurting so much.
Mrs. D telephoned the boy's mother, and asked her about it. The mother offered to keep her son at home for a couple of days, in order that the talk and celebration of fathers not upset her son too terribly.
One of the many things I admire about Mrs. D and her staff is that they are not women who "sweep things under the rug". They believe in being honest and open with children, encourage them to face challenges, and do it all in a sensitive, age-appropriate way. Bless Mrs. D, because she had a plan, and she received the permission of the little boy's mother to go ahead with it.
It was decided that at the end of today's classes, once all the Father's Day preparations were completed, the children would go outside to the garden just before the parents arrived for pick-up time, to watch their classmate "give" his father the gift and card he had made. The little package would be tied to a helium balloon, and once let go, it would float up to the special daddy in Heaven.
I was flabbergasted by the idea.
And I found myself teary-eyed in the hallway, as I pulled out my cellphone and called all my friends to delay the party preparations by one hour, so that I could run this very, very important errand.
The only store even remotely nearby that sold helium balloons at nine-thirty in the morning was in the next town. When I got there, I found no Father's Day balloons, but I did find a heart-shaped one that read "Hugs and Kisses" on it. Perfect. I added a couple of extra regular balloons in red and blue, just to round out a little bunch nicely... and for added buoyancy.
"Are you SURE you don't want to buy a weight for this?" the saleslady asked me at least eight or nine times as she was filling the balloons up.
"NO THANK YOU, " I replied, after the tenth inquiry. "We don't need one. These balloons are going to Heaven, you see."
I explained what was going on, and the woman's jaw dropped. Once the "bouquet" was completed, she followed me to the cash register.
"Ma'am, I'm not going to charge you for the balloons. Take them to the little boy. I hope he enjoys them. Tell him we made them special, for Heaven," she said.
I thanked her profusely, and whizzed back to the preschool, where the children were all waiting.
I didn't witness the release-- it was a private event, for a little boy, his teachers, and his friends.
But I'm sure it must have been wonderful.
And I'm also sure that somewhere up there, a proud, happy father is smiling.