Last night both Joyce and I looked over (amused) at the Finding Dory balloon which is still suspended by a small weight in our sitting room. It’s Bettina’s and it has so far lasted 26 days but between you and me, it is actually her second Finding Dory balloon.
Finding Dory, as you may know, is the latest Pixar film which we all enjoyed as a family on a visit to the cinema. This was especially a favourite of Bettina’s as we had watched the trailers on YouTube numerous times. During our recent holiday in Whitby, we took the opportunity to buy Bettina a Finding Dory balloon filled with helium. She was very proud of it, taking it back to her hotel room where it floated above her bed.
On our last night on holiday we had completed our packing and Bettina, eager to ensure that it was not left behind, walked over to her luggage and attempted to tie her balloon to the handle of her bag. I could see how important it was to her – it was definitely going home!
At the end of holidays it is my job to pack the luggage into our car, which was going well until…. you guessed it… I had Bettina’s bag with the balloon. To cut a long story short I put the bag down beside the car when the balloon escaped from my reach.
You can’t imagine how sick and panicked I felt as it ascended skywards. First it headed towards the sea – I will run after it. Then it changed direction towards the North Yorkshire moors – I will drive across the moors to rescue it. I wasn’t thinking straight because this was about Bettina and how I had let her down. Later Joyce and Jennifer (her big sister) could see the funny side “how on earth was he going to get the balloon down from the sky, let alone reach it” I think the word “typical” was also included in their sentence.
Now I had to go back to the hotel and explain it Joyce and face Bettina. I felt dreadful. Straightaway we started to think of how we would break the news to Bettina and, if possible, how were we going to resolve (and recover) the situation. It might sound a trivial situation to you, and I must admit on paper I have faced more serious crisis’s, but this was for our much loved daughter who copes with Autism and a Learning Disabilities.
As Bettina’s senses are always at a high level she immediately detected something was wrong and I could see this by the looks she was giving me “where is my balloon? I thought it was going to sit with me on the back seat? Have they put it in the boot?” Bettina has total trust in her family to do the very best for her which made me feel very guilty. Honestly, I was still looking up at the sky to see if Dory would come back, I was that desperate!
We were about to start our five hour drive home and our Leader, Joyce, had a plan which she was about to put into operation! The Plan was:
- Joyce would text Jennifer who was at home to inform her of the situation
- Jennifer would be asked to go into town to buy a Finding Dory Balloon if possible
- As Jennifer is Bettina’s ‘Hero’ she was not going to let her down and I am confident she would have not given up until she found a shop that had one. After all, this was Bettina and she would run through walls for her. Joyce and Jennifer discussed possible, and acceptable, alternatives
- Typical of a hero, Jennifer found an exact replica of the balloon and walked through the town centre with the inflated Finding Dory balloon without the slightest thought or care what other people would think. After all this was Bettina (more about Jennifer and being a Role model on https://leadershipintheraw.org/2015/12/09/being-bettinas-dad-a-role-model-for-bettina/
- With an hour to go before we reached home we got the confirmation we needed. Jennifer had arrived home and the balloon was in a prominent position in our sitting room waiting for Bettina.
On arriving home, Bettina walked into the house, and her face lit up with happiness and joy and exclaimed “There you are Finding Dory”!
We are certain that Bettina had assumed that Finding Dory, just as in the film, had found her own way home. I could now stop beating myself up over the lost balloon and how I had failed Bettina.
So what did I learn from this team experience?
- Time involved in preparation is never wasted. I should have double checked the balloon was tied securely to the bag
- Prioritise – the balloon should have gone in the car first before the rest of the luggage
- Don’t Panic! we all face events and it is how we react to them that matters
- Have a Recovery Plan – plan your way out of a situation
- Celebrate – you got through your crisis so now celebrate your achievement.
We do wonder, though, what happened to her original balloon flying across the moors. There is a secret (ish) NATO early warning station on the North Yorkshire Moors so it was possibly heading in that direction and it is entirely possible that Finding Dory came up on their radar! Sorry about that!!