Kids, I Hate To Tell You, Will Be Kids



One day, when I was 4 years old, I listened to my older brothers talking about how beautiful the sunrise had been that morning. I wanted to see it for myself, but I knew, without asking, that none of them was going to get up early to show it to me.

The more I thought about their description of the rainbow of colors and the sweep of light climbing across the sky, the more I wanted to see it for myself.

I lay in bed thinking about it that night, feeling more and more angry that everyone except me had shared a great adventure. So, being a typical dumb kid, I made up my mind to get up on my own and sneak out of the house the next morning.

And I did just that. I slid silently out of bed, dressed in a pitch dark bedroom without waking my brothers, found the front door out in the hallway, and slipped outside, crossing over to the vacant lot across the street.

I waited in the vacant lot, sitting on the remnant of a brick wall, with my eyes on a corner of the sky that showed a slight hint of gray. The sky brightened, but stayed gray. Then it brightened even more, but still stayed gray. Then daylight, of sorts, arrived and it began to drizzle.

So much for a glorious sunrise.

I told myself that getting up early and slipping out of the house all by myself was a great adventure, sunrise or no sunrise, but try as I might I couldn't make myself believe it. So, thoroughly disgusted, I looked around for something else to make it all worthwhile.

The drizzle stopped, but that didn't help much. I sat there on the brick wall feeling like the biggest dummy on the block and knowing that was exactly what my older brothers were going to call me. I kept my mind off what Mom was to say. She'd say plenty, alright.

Then, I saw them. Coming out of a familiar bunch of anthills near the place where I sometimes played with my toy cars.

Ants. But not ordinary ants, ants with wings. I could hardly believe my eyes.

Ants couldn't fly. Ants didn't have wings.

But these did. I watched them come out of, not just one anthill, but out of nearly every one of them. They came out, fluttered their wings a little bit, walked in circles, and flew off.

Ants. Would you believe it?

I wanted to run across the street, wake everybody up, and tell them that, in the morning before everybody got up, ants sneaked around wearing wings. But I knew what would happen. They'd all yell at me and nobody would to listen to a word I had to say. So, I slipped back into the house, went back to bed, and never said a word about it to anyone.

End of story, right? Well, not quite.

Twenty-seven years later someone told me they'd seen my 4-year-old son, David, slip out the second story window of our house in Okinawa, climb down some latticework blocks in his bathrobe, play outside for an hour before we woke up and then scramble back up.

Two years after that, my 3-year-old slipped out of the house in the morning in wet training pants, followed the kids to the base elementary school, ended up in a third-grade classroom, and was brought back home by the Air Police.

Just thought I'd warn you.

Think back to what you were like as a kid and be prepared. Acorns don't fall far from the tree.

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