Thursday, February 2, 2012

Siena at 4 months
 funstration [fuhn-strey-shuhn]: noun.  an intense state of being both delighted and frustrated at the same time.

I discovered this new emotion (that Joe cleverly named) when I took Sisi to Party City to shop for her birthday party, and they gave her a free helium balloon.  Sisi looked up, mouth wide open in wonder, babbled, and smiled.  I thanked the Party City gal and said, "Yay! Now she'll be entertained for the next hour."

When we got home, I gave her the balloon to play with.  Try to picture this, because I didn't get any video footage:

More babbling, more smiles as she pulls the string back and forth and the balloon bobs in the air.  Then suddenly, tears and wailing, as the balloon bops her in the head.  Then a second later, cheerful babbles as she kisses the balloon.  Then crazy ape tantrum as she kicks and screams on the floor.  Then, she sits back up and sings as she caresses the balloon.  Then, she's balling again and trying to bite the balloon.

I'm standing there, staring in amazement, not sure whether to kill the balloon or let her work out her funstration.  What's a parent to do?

I tell her I'm taking the balloon away, let it rise to the ceiling, and welcome her to my lap for cuddles. She points to the balloon and says, "mama!", asking me to get it for her.  I decide to give it another try, and the same Jekyl and Hyde fun-strated episode occurs.  I decide it's nap time, and stab the balloon to death once she's fast asleep.

But guess what Nana brought Sisi for her birthday a few days later?  A big shiny mylar balloon.  The second I saw that thing, I knew we were in for trouble.

Parents, tell me, have you ever witness a "fun-stration tantrum"?  What did you do?  Why do you think this happens? 


janetlansbury February 2, 2012 at 8:46 PM  

What a classic photo! The BEST. Love the invention of "funstration". Good one, Joe.

I've seen my own children and others experience this and I think it reflects something Magda Gerber taught me... Very young children, especially when they haven't spent a lot of time with electronic toys and TV, are naturally active learners. They work to figure out the toys and objects in their environment, and they are encouraged to continue to do so when we expose them to simple toys that they are capable of understanding. So, it makes sense to me that a helium balloon would be both exciting and frustrating. Siena can't figure out why it flies, why it pops, etc. Anyway, that's my theory... Thanks for getting me thinking about this!

Cindy February 7, 2012 at 3:48 PM  

My kids all loved mylar balloons to excess at that age. It's such a sensory thing: shiny, slippery, MOVING! It's a combination of things that they don't get to experience in another way.

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