Thursday, October 15, 2009

Balloon Boy Safe And Sound

The whole world was watching as the drama of Falcon Heene, the "balloon boy" unfolded. The Heene family had been working on a science project. Understandably, they did not want falcon to play with the balloon, even if it looked like a shiny exciting toy. But kids will be kids. Falcon climbed on the gondola of the balloon anyway. Everyone thought he was on board. It was even captured on video. Along with millions, I felt a sinking feeling when the balloon was found without little Falcon aboard.

Now it turns out that the world got a lesson in child psychology. Falcon was more agile than we gave him credit for. He managed to scurry away before the balloon reached critical altitude. When he saw daddy's big shiny balloon float away, he did what any sensible six year old would do. He hid in a cardboard box in the garage. KDVR News reports as follows on the happy ending to what looked like a sad, harrowing tale.

"After the balloon floated away, the boy apparently fled to the garage, climbing a pole into the rafters and hiding in a cardboard box.

The Heene family addressed the media a short time later.

"It was in the really early stages of the invention," Richard Heene said of the experimental aircraft, holding Falcon in his arms. "This little guy got inside of it...I thought he did anyway, according to Brad."

"He videotaped it and we watched it back and, sure enough, he got in," He said. "But obviously he got out."

"I was in the attic and he scared me because he yelled at me," Falcon said. "That's why I went in the attic."

"I yelled at him. I'm really sorry I yelled at him," Heene said, choking up and hugging Falcon to him during the news conference."

That is just how a kid's mind works. They are afraid to face their parents and end up causing more trouble. When I was a kid, I lost a $7.28 social studies book. I went without lunch for a month so I wouldn't have to ask my parents for the money. Then I found the book.

My sister accidentally flooded the toilet. She was afraid that my father would be furious, so she went to bed and hid under the covers. She ended up flooding the bathroom, the kitchen and the basement. Calling my father after the first minute would have saved everyone trouble.

When I was a toddler, I took off my diaper and climbed up on a hot radiator. I was so shocked by the burning on the soles of my feet that I pooped behind the radiator. I figured it wouldn't be noticed. The whole house stank. I thought my parents were forensic geniuses. They didn't believe me when I tried to say that the dog did it.

A kid down the street hid out when playing with matches got out of hand. He was lucky just to lose his apartment instead of losing family members as well.

I can imagine how scared Falcon was, hiding from his parents. His focus was entirely different than his parents. He is going to be wiping off the hugs and kisses from tearful family for the next month. When my son was that age, he hated hugs and kisses worse than a spanking. What is most important is that Falcon and a lot of little kids are going to learn that people are more important than things. The whole world was transfixed by the little boy and the runaway balloon. Hundreds of police were mobilised to find him. Every parent should discuss this story with their children. It drives home a lot of lessons.

1) Don't mess with big boy toys. You might get more trouble than you bargained for.

2) For really big problems, come clean and level with your folks. They may rise to the occasion. They may have no choice.

3) Ignoring a big problem often leads to a bigger one.

Some of these lessons are actually applicable to adults.

People in Colorado and elsewhere are actually talking about making the family pay for the rescue effort. I think that is an awful idea. The family has suffered enough, and the discussion of this incident at dinner tables across the nation will have immeasurable educational value. So welcome home Falcon. You don't have to sleep in that cardboard box in the garage. The world has learned a lesson. I hope you do as well

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