For the entirety of elementary school, I spent my late afternoons at day care, much to my chagrin. My friends could walk or ride their bikes home from school, but my parents deemed these practices far too risky. They were certain that danger lurked around every street corner, and ignored my well-articulated arguments to the contrary (“But all my friends do it!”). By the time I hit sixth grade, I’d had enough of unnecessary supervision. So when my best friend invited me over to her house after school one day, I decided it was time to start living a little dangerously.
What’s the harm? I thought as we walked to her house, which was a mere two minutes away. I’ll go inside, hang out for a few minutes, and then head to day care right after. If anyone asks, I’ll say I stayed after class to talk with my teacher. But once we got there, a bad feeling grew in the pit of my stomach—the kind you get when something’s about to go horribly wrong. I bid adieu to my friend and hurried back to the school, only to come face to face with one of the day-care supervisors once my feet hit the blacktop. “You’re in so much trouble,” she warned.
Turns out my parents had both left work early and were waiting to surprise me at day care when I got back from school. When I didn’t show, they walked over to my teacher’s classroom, and she informed them that I’d left twenty minutes ago. Everyone frantically searched for me, and my poor parents were terrified that I’d been kidnapped. I was grounded for weeks as a result, but that was nothing compared with the guilt trip I sent myself on for causing my parents such grief. In fact, I still feel a twinge of remorse just writing this story. I think I’ll call my mom …
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