It appears the tide is turning against the Heenes, and that the literal meaning of boy’s remark is increasingly likely. I wouldn’t have been surprised if it turned out the other way, though. As with adults, kids can answer questions in a rather tangential fashion.
For example, I was talking to a neighborhood kid the other day, a year or so younger than the “balloon boy,” and I asked him, in a purely non-accusatory and joking way, if he was the one who’s been feeding push pops to my dog through my backyard fence. Keep in mind that the boy was consuming a push pop while I asked him this and habitually rides his bike over and over past said fence.
He responded, a trifle defensively, “I didn’t have one last night when they got out of the fence.”
Now that’s not what I asked him at all. To understand his response, you have to know that H and I recently rescued an odd yet inseparable pair of dogs straight out of a Pixar movie – a pit bull and a Chihuahua – and had stored them overnight in the backyard until we found their owner the next day. Apparently the dogs had gotten out of our fence sometime that night, though, and the neighborhood kids had rounded them up and secured the gate. I knew this story before I asked him this question, so I knew he had misinterpreted my query, which was about my dog – my single dog, a boykin spaniel, who is usually the backyard’s only occupant – who I have discovered carrying around the still-sticky remains of a push pop in the backyard.
I’m still impressed by how he realized his possession of a push pop implied some sort of guilt by association, and he countered with a statement that is, as far as I know, truthful, yet did not deny any past acts of nefariousness – not that I care that Kara is getting push pops in the slightest.