Today, after 9 1/2 years of being a father, I did something with my kids that I’ve aspired to for a long time.
Namely, I bought a shitload of balloons, attached an action figure and a note (if you find this, send us an e-mail and tell us where you are …) to the strings, and let them fly away.
I know—this sounds odd. Hell, it is odd. However, it also always struck me as a funky-fun-cool-fresh-unique thing to try. So, earlier this afternoon, the son and I walked into the local Party City, plunked down $10 and bought 12 helium balloons of assorted colors and messages. Upon returning home this evening, the boy decided he wanted to send Batman off into space. Though the child has no personal animosity toward the Caped Crusader, he’s also far from an admirer. Superman, the boy says, can do everything. The Flash is fast, Green Lantern has a powerful ring, Spider-Man slings webs, the Hulk and Thing are crazy strong, Aquaman talks to fish. Batman? Nothing. Just a dude in a bat suit.
Hence, he was enlisted.
Unfortunately, his enlistment didn’t last long. The boy placed Batman in a plastic cup, strapped him in (using tape) and attached the balloons. Alas, he was too heavy. “Let’s get Robin!” the boy said.
Robin (a short, stubby plastic version) it was.
Before long, the whole family was standing on the patio outside my daughter’s room, with 12 balloons, a bunch of colorful strings, a note and Robin in a Dixie Cup. A few kind words were spoken about the Boy Wonder (“He has no powers, and his uniform is silly), then we did the countdown. 10 … 9 … 8 … 7 … 6 … 5 … 4 … 3 … 2 …1 …
Robin flew up, up, up—over the house, over the telephone wires, far into the distance. Had we paid $20 for 24 balloons, there’s a chance he’d still be flying—far, far away. However, I’m sorta guessing Robin landed, oh, four miles away, somewhere in the neighboring town.
As he floated off, I turned somewhat sad. Tomorrow, my daughter leaves for three weeks of sleep-away camp. It’s yet another step in her maturation; a can’t-turn-back process that, one day, will result in her leaving home for good and paving her own trail. My daughter isn’t a plastic superhero. She’s a tall, peppy girl with spunk and heart and vigor. Still, I couldn’t help thinking that, just as Robin drifted away into the sky, my girl is drifting away, too.
The thought breaks my heart.