This week’s story about the supposed runaway balloon with a little boy in tow (who ended up being safe on the ground the whole time), reminded me of a somewhat similar incident, starring me, when I was five.
My entire family (Mom, Dad, little sis, Grandma, aunts, an uncle and cousins) all were on a trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We weren’t in the hugest of rental homes, and so one of the closets had all manner of beach and other toys stuffed into it when not in use. I remember venturing into the closet in search of my Little People and, being a little person myself, was quite content to remain in the closet to play with them.
After a while, I heard my Dad calling me. I don’t remember exactly what my motivation for doing so was (I probably had been told to leave the toys alone), but I decided I didn’t want to be found. So I stayed tucked inside the closet, hiding under a fully inflated rubber raft that had been wedged inside, and continued to play with my toys.
At first, I was having a grand ol’ time. I heard various relatives calling my name and I listened to the conversations between my parents and extended fam, as a search of the house was performed. My dad even opened the closet door to peer in, but didn’t see me. I grinned and congratulated myself for not being discovered.
After some time though, I could hear my mom becoming more frantic, my aunts trying to guess where I’d wandered off to. A couple of folks started down to the beach to look for me there. A call to the police was suggested.
If at first I didn’t want to be discovered playing with the off-limits toys, now I knew I was really in hot water. No way I was coming out. But I was a squirmy little five-year-old and said squirming set off a shifting of the tower of toys in the closet, betraying my location as my dad was walking by.
The door flew open and he hauled me out — he was most definitely *not* amused. The search party headed for the beach was recalled. My mom, who was close to tears, gave me a stern talking to. My embarassed little butt just wanted to go run and hide again, but I had to park myself in the living room where everyone could keep a better eye on me.
I didn’t make national headlines with my little hide-and-seek game, but the Balloon Boy story brought back this memory for me. I remember that feeling of dread as I realized the situation on the other side of that closet door was spiraling out of control. I certainly can’t blame the kid for hiding, hoax or not.