I came home from a party the other day with two helium balloons, which many might regard as an innocent enough act. However, I should point out that, at the time, I was also in possession of three children. You do the maths.
At first I seemed to be getting away it. Tiddles McGee was more interested in the glow-in-the-dark bracelet from his party bag (which later led to a glow-in-the-dark mouth and a call to the Poisons Hotline – but that’s a story for another day) and all was quiet on the western suburbs front. The sun was shining, the sugar from the party bags hadn’t yet kicked in, the balloons quietly wafted in the breeze, suspended by strings tied firmly to the older two children’s wrists (I’ve learnt that trick the Hard Way with a $15 Wiggles balloon that was relinquished to the beckoning skies by a small hand *before we even got back to the car*… aaah my heart still grieves for that $15). Other than the risk of blood supply to the kids’ hands being cut off by the balloon strings, the afternoon ahead was looking goooooood. “Two balloons is more than enough”, I said to myself in that gay, reckless manner that usually precedes a big big fall. “It’s all goooooooooood.”
Cut to: world war three in my loungeroom as all three children rush between balloons trying to violently claim ownership. As The Pixie clamps her jaw firmly around Mr Justice’s wrist, adding teeth imprints to the already-alarming string mark, I calmly reflect that the inclusion of sugar in this kind of scenario never helps. But at the end of the day, it comes down to a simple matter of mathematics: one balloon (or more – NOT less) to each child. It’s all laid out in the Geneva Convention in their Balloon-to-Child Ratio recommendations. It really truly it is. (Okay, so it’s not. But it should be.)
It’s interesting how the underlying principles of the balloon-to-child ratio can apply to other areas, such as the packaging of certain chocolate bars or other confectionary, such as Bounty Bars or Twinkies. All very nice if you have two children – or even one child (they get everything) – but, really, anything that comes in a twin-pack should be avoided when you have three children. (I must add that four or more children pushes you into the realm of the Bulk Buy, which most of us don’t get to until our sons hit adolescence… shudder…).
The most important twin-pack to a child, of course, are parents – who tend to come in twos. This makes it very hard to divide precious parental attention into three whilst maintaining good parental mental health. When we had one child, my husband and I used to take turns either childwrangling or clinging onto our pre-child life. When we had two, we could have one child each OR one of us could have two and be somewhat fortified by the fact that at least the other was off tripping the light fantastic. Nowadays, one of us can be struggling in public with both Mr J & The Pixie – and someone *still* has to stay at home to be Tiddles McGee’s bitch.
Not that I’m complaining. I’m grateful for the three children I have – I know when they’re all clambering up for a hug on my lap at the same time (Lordy! Even my knees come in a twin-pack!), that I’m a very very lucky woman. The only time it becomes really tricky is when you have a situation such as a serious breach of the Balloon-to-Child ratio, when I honestly think I would have been better off raising Sea Monkeys. Sea Monkeys don’t like balloons.