(I started this story a few years ago as a way of helping my nephew see the importance of controlling his temper. I owe a debt to his older brother, Braden, for a significant idea that improved the plot.)
Timmy always loved balloons. Balloons were his favorite toy. For as long as he could remember he always had balloons about him. His room was filled with balloons- big balloons, small balloons, blue balloons, red balloons, fat balloons, skinny balloons, balloons that looked like giraffes, elephants, and dogs, balloons of every color, size, and shape. Timmy loved to blow up balloons and play with them for hours on end. He had balloon bedsheets and pajamas with balloons on them. He even went on a hot air balloon ride with his parents for his last birthday.
Whenever Timmy’s mommy told him to clean his room, often the mess was not from clothes, toys, or food wrappers strewn everywhere; it was too many balloons-balloons filled with air and balloons ready to be filled with air. There were balloons in his bed, in his sock drawer, in his clothes hampers, and even in his tub. He had more balloons than any ten kids for he kept every balloon he had ever received or found. And I bet you can guess what his first word was-not “Mama” or “Dada” or “mine.” It was his most favorite thing in the whole world, “balloon.”
While Timmy was usually a good boy and got along well with his brother and little sister, like all little boys he didn’t like it when he couldn’t get his way. He didn’t always understand why he couldn’t have his way, so he often lost his temper and broke something or hurt someone, especially his little sister, to show his anger. He didn’t seem to realize or care that his choices and actions had consequences. All that mattered was that he was angry, and he had to do something about it.
One day Timmy was trying to learn how to play a new video game called Ultimate Water Balloon Battles. He was playing the game with his older brother and no matter how hard he tried, he kept losing. His brother was just too good at the game and never gave Timmy a chance to win. Instead of asking his daddy for help in getting better at the game, Timmy lost his temper, yelling at his brother, accusing him of being unfair, cheating, and telling his brother that he hated him. He threw the video game controller down on the floor as hard as he could, not caring if it broke. Timmy determined that he would win a water balloon battle with his brother one way or another. While his brother decided to play another video game, Timmy stomped off to his room and went to the secret water balloon stash he kept in his closet. Picking up as many water balloons as he could carry, he went back into the living room. Without his brother looking, he bombarded his brother with water balloons right in the head, as well as hitting the video game console, controllers, and television. Soaking wet, Timmy’s brother attacked him, and a terrible fight ensued. Timmy’s father came into the room from the kitchen and ended the fight. After listening to the boys’ explanations, he sent them to separate rooms for time-outs to calm down, ponder what they had done, and how it was wrong to fight.
As Timmy sat alone on his bed, he became very tired from the fight, as his brother was 3 years older. He thought about how mean his brother was but not very much about what he had done wrong- after all his brother had not let Timmy win. Slowly he fell asleep and began to dream. He dreamed that he was in his bedroom. Instead of the dozens of balloons that were usually there, only one giant balloon in the shape of a heart was there. It was one that his father had given him for he knew how much Timmy loved balloons. And the fact that it was the only balloon Timmy had made it the most special balloon ever. What made the balloon even more special was the face on the balloon, a face that looked just like his. It even had the color of his eyes and hair and his sweet smile that everyone adored. The balloon was like a shadow that somehow followed him everywhere he went, despite it not being tied to a string on his hand. Timmy was overjoyed at this very special balloon and cherished it.
He soon came to see how unique this balloon was as the face on the balloon smiled when Timmy smiled and frowned when Timmy frowned. Something especially strange happened when Timmy became angry and lost his temper. When he did this the balloon changed colors from a bright cherry red with an adorable smile to a dark, frightening black with a menacing white face that scared everyone it came near, even Timmy. Timmy was very afraid whenever this balloon turned angry looking but there was no way for him to be rid of the balloon, even for a moment. The balloon mimicked and followed him all the time.
As Timmy’s dream went on his brother asked him to play a video game. With a big smile on his face (and on the balloon) Timmy agreed to play. He had fun for only a few moments for it wasn’t long that he was again losing the game and his temper, and his brother started laughing at him. Timmy’s smile was quickly gone. His expression became one of frustration and anger, his face turning raging red. He screamed at his brother and threw the controller at him. He picked up everything he could get a hold of and began to break it or throw it across the room. He broke the television, Mommy’s special crafts, and even Daddy’s prize football. Timmy became more and more angry as his temper controlled him and he didn’t care who he hurt or what he broke- all that mattered was that he was angry.
But Timmy’s look of anger was nothing compared to how mean and scary the face on his balloon had become. It became so frightening that once his brother saw the look on the balloon, he ran out of the room crying for help. As Timmy turned to look at his balloon, he became so scared that he didn’t know what to do. He began running away but the balloon followed him, growing in size. He called for his parents to help him, but they were nowhere to be found. He called for his brother to rescue him, but he couldn’t find him, either. He even called for his little sister, who would be too little to help. But no help came. Finally, out of desperation, he decided the one place that he could go that the balloon couldn’t get him was outside- for if the balloon came outside, surely it would float away into the sky. Normally, Timmy thought that a balloon floating away into the sky, never to be seen again, was one of the saddest sights he could ever see. However, now he figured was his only way to be saved from the angry balloon.
Upon reaching the front yard Timmy ran as fast as he could but the balloon was always right behind him, growing bigger and bigger. As he turned around, he saw the balloon open its mouth wide and he saw inside that the balloon had already swallowed the rest of his family. Before he could escape or do anything about it, the angry balloon began to swallow Timmy…
Suddenly a clap of thunder and a bolt of lightning awakened Timmy from his nightmare. He sat up in bed and cried for his daddy to come into the room. His daddy came and asked Timmy what was wrong. Timmy told his daddy all about his nightmare and how something very precious to him (the special balloon in his dream) had turned into a terrible menace that scared and hurt him and how it had devoured his family and began to swallow him before he woke up.
Timmy’s daddy picked him up and put him on his lap. He hugged him, began to stroke his hair, and dry Timmy’s tears. After much effort, he convinced Timmy that he had only had a bad dream and assured him that none of the many balloons Timmy had would turn into an angry balloon. Timmy’s daddy explained that Timmy sometimes resembled the special balloon in his dream. He said that when people became angry and didn’t find a positive way to deal with their anger but lost their temper, it was like a nightmare coming true both for the one that loses their temper and the people who love them. Timmy’s daddy said that when we lose our tempers, it was like a powerful thunderstorm right in the house, causing fear and destruction both to people and things. He told Timmy that anger is not wrong in and of itself for everyone has feelings of anger at times. It is what we choose to do with our anger that determines if we do wrong. Thunder and lightning can be scary but provided they stay in their proper places they have their purposes. But a thunderstorm out of its place, like in the house, is like anger out of control- it only leads to hurt and fear and destruction. Timmy’s daddy explained that when we are angry, we can’t just carelessly break things or hurt other people, letting our feelings of frustration swallow us and those we love whole. He said we must be angry and not sin by finding a way to deal with our anger positively- employing it constructively by running in the yard, blowing up balloons, or by taking a timeout to realize why we are angry and praying to God to help us not hurt ourselves or others.
As Timmy’s daddy finished talking, Timmy began to realize that he needed help in learning to control his temper and asked his daddy to pray with him about it. As he grew up, Timmy never lost his love for balloons. However, he did learn to keep his anger in the proper place. He never again found himself scared of balloons nor was found to be the cause of frightening others as a result of losing his temper.