Up, Up, and Away

Released Balloons

Two years ago, on my little cousin’s 8th birthday, he got the gift he had always wanted: a remote controlled helicopter. He also didn’t get to spend 30 minutes with it.

He had been hinting for weeks prior that he wanted that helicopter. He had tried being subtle, then he just graduated to full on shamelessly begging for it. I kept saying I wouldn’t get it, but I already knew I would. Sure enough, on his birthday, while he was at school, I went & got the helicopter so I could surprise him when he got home. Best. Cousin. Ever? Yup.

Now I’m a grown man, but I have to admit, that helicopter looked and flew good. The remote control worked perfectly, and we were all just having a blast playing with it. But pretty quickly, the birthday boy got tired of the limitations that came with being indoors. I mean, you can only fly so high and to so many places inside the house. So he did what every curious kid his age would do; he decided we had to take the helicopter outside so we could really see what it could do. There was just one problem: The label on the box clearly said “for indoor use ONLY.”

I’m pretty sure you can already tell how this story ends. Sure enough, we all go outside, and wouldn’t you know, the helicopter can fly higher than we thought, and it can go farther than we assumed. We thought playing with it inside was fun, but being outdoors was just perfect. Well… Almost perfect. It took about a minute, before he decided he wanted to see how high it could go. And boy, did that thing rise! I have to admit, even I was impressed. Right in the middle of thinking “I’ve never seen him happier. This was money well spent” I realized he was panicking. You see, he was trying to bring it back down, and apparently the helicopter had gotten out of range of the remote controller and they just stopped communicating. We spent all of six seconds hoping gravity would step in, but when it just continued to rise (and it wasn’t just rising vertically, picture a plane taking off) we all started laughing. He just stood there with the now useless remote control in his hand, and the helicopter long gone at that point. He stood there, with the entire family around him holding our stomachs, laughing uncontrollably. I cannot aptly describe how funny the whole thing was even though it happened so quickly.

He had wanted that helicopter for months, he got it, and he got to spend less than 30 minutes with it. I wasn’t even mad that I had thrown money down the drain (or more aptly, into the sky). The laughs were well worth it. My one regret from that evening is that I wasn’t filming him. I assure you, the footage would have been priceless.

Sometimes, the manufacturer puts restrictions on how a product can be used for a reason. It’s in our nature to want to push the boundaries as far as we can, to test the limits, but we do need to remember that it’s not always a fence… sometimes, it’s a guardrail.

Oh and last month, when I took him to get his 10th birthday cake, I asked if he remembered the helicopter episode. I was bringing it up to say how proud of him I was that he didn’t cry while we all laughed and he said “Oh I cried. I went upstairs to the room alone later and cried. You just didn’t see me.” I was even more proud of him then. And he did manage to convince one of his older sisters to get him another helicopter, so I guess the story does have a happy ending. I don’t have to tell you he NEVER took that one outside.

***

Music recommendation: I was going to recommend a different song, but then I stumbled on this song literally two days ago and I haven’t stopped listening to it. It just makes me feel like I can go out and accomplish anything. And the video is brilliant too.

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