Want to know how I spent my morning? I’ll give you three hints. I was with at least 30 stay-at-home moms. We spent three hours doing something traditionally associated with Valentine’s Day. It involved a lot of latex.
That’s right; we were volunteers at the annual Balloon Day at our sons’ school. What did you think I was talking about?
Each Valentine’s Day, the school holds a fundraiser where the kids buy valentines and send them to friends and teachers attached to red and white balloons. Each child get 10 balloons tied to an envelope with all of their cards inside. It’s a great idea, except that someone has to sort the cards, stuff the envelopes and inflate and tie the 5800 or so balloons. Enter the parents.
It’s actually a fun event, with all available parents gathering in the lunch room with about five or six filling stations comprised of a huge tank of helium, a bag full of red and white strings, and lots of latex balloons. Someone usually brings coffee and donuts and everyone is good-natured about helping out, because the kids enjoy it so much and honestly, it’s a breathtaking sight when the afternoon bell rings and bouquet after bouquet of balloons come out of the doors.
It’s a challenge for some parents, though — especially those with multiple kids at the school. Have you ever seen a full-grown man struggle to shove 20, 30 or 40 helium balloons into a car — along with accompanying kids, backpacks and lunch boxes — without losing one? It ought to be on everyone’s bucket list.
But the bigger challenge still belongs to the volunteers. At each station, someone fills the balloons from the tank nozzle, then passes each one to someone else to tie a knot and attach a string. Other volunteers walk up and down the line, gathering the loose balloons and assembling them into bouquets of ten.
Every once in a while, a balloon will pop, several volunteers will scream and others will nearly hit the deck. But the real trauma comes from handling the latex. That stuff dries out a person’s hands in nothing, flat. Then it starts to create friction, rubbing the skin raw and eventually causing cracks. Every year I volunteer, I leave with bloody fingers. I’m not kidding. What sort of warped mind ever thought to associate latex with any sort of physical pleasure?
I’m thinking next year, they should change things up a bit. If they really want to make money, they can sell hand lotion to the volunteers….