A spent a few summers as a child in a library program. We learned the card catalog system. We sought out books for scavenger hunts. We wrote. And in the afternoons when the heat of Northern California’s sun was persistent, we would watch short films.
The Red Balloon was one that mystified me. There isn’t much dialogue in the movie at all but this wasn’t what captivated me. It was the sentiment of the entire movie. It tugged on my heart strings in an unusually potent way. I didn’t know if I should feel happy or sad. The child, Pascal, seemed not to know how to emote either.
Set in the 1950’s in Paris, you see more of the true city than a Google maps app but it wasn’t the scenery that held my heart, it was the idea of deciding what childhood really represents.
The balloon follows the child through all his daily happenings. It waits for him while he is at school and it hovers while he is sleeping. It refuses to leave the boy’s side and is reprimanded as it follows him into church and school. It bounces in delight when the boy tugs at its string and patiently waits close by to any and all places Pascal wanders.
This short film held my attention exactly the same way “The Little Prince” by Saint-Exupery did. I fascinated at it’s imagery and symbolism and to this day picture all the places childhood magic can take us.
In the end the boy floats away, of course held up by balloons. And I always wondered, where ??!! To eternal childhood??!!
I couldn’t let it go. Card catalog system or microfiche (do these date me?!), there had to be more on this film! Years later, I still wonder how childhood can be so fleeting.
How when we think we have embraced as much of it as possible, we really have only drawn a brush across a canvas. There is plenty of magic in this stage of life but when it is threaded with tasking and hard work and foresight and planning, it all just seems to go way too fast.
Here we are at that sweet spot of winter break again. We’ve sunk into new and slowed down routines and we have let go of many routines as well.
Here we are with one weekend remaining in Winter Break and no different than any year past, I am getting that familiar feeling in my stomach of, “Where does the time go?!”
Red Balloon or not, childhood is mystifying if not only by the intricate way it seems to strong-hold time.
Sometimes, I imagine our family being hoisted through the Mesa streets by bouquets of flowers to some kind of place where time stands still a bit longer. But as it stands, the only way to allow time to slow down is to simply be at peace with what comes and goes. To be present. To not rush. To be available to the magic in front of us. To be in love with the moments we have. To weave periphery into all the tasking we parents do and to delight in the vision of our children as they allow that red balloon to take them to the next stage.
#redballoon #parentingforabetterfuture #magic