The first time I rode in the back of a police car, I was soaking wet and pantsless. I was also five.
Yes, my life of crime began at a very young age. We were visiting my cousin, only a year older than me, and somehow we wandered off. I don't remember how or how far we went, but we ended up at the Iroquois River. I was wearing a pink striped shirt with buttons. I remember this because I couldn't get all of the buttons undone and when I tried to take it off, it got stuck on my head. So I had to settle for swimming in my underpants and shirt, instead of just my underpants like my much-more clothing adept cousin. I remember that we had goldfish crackers and I was throwing them in the river and giggling while we splashed around. It's strange how I can't really remember what I wore last month, but I can so vividly remember that pink striped shirt with the white collar and the muddy brown of the water juxtaposed with the orange of the crackers.
What I remember, too, is having no concept of time when we were gone and never thinking for a single moment that we might be worrying our mothers. We were, by the way. They were fairly panicked, calling for us, and eventually calling a neighbor who was a state police trooper. I remember when he picked us up, he put a tarp on the backseat because we were so wet. I remember my legs sticking to the tarp and I remember my cousin telling me that it was okay if we got a time out, because we could just take toys in time out. I don't remember getting in trouble, really, but I do remember coming home to two very relieved moms. On the drive home, I remember my mom asking if we heard us calling and I answered honestly, that no, we didn't. At the time, I didn't understand her worry, because hey, we were just having fun, but now? Every time I read a story about children drowning or children wandering away, oh, I get it.
And so, with this precious childhood memory in mind, should I ever win the lottery, the very first thing I will do is send my mom and Aunt Mary on some very expensive, relaxing trip to a tropical locale to apologize for the time I was brought home in a police car. Pantsless.