TODAY   |  October 16, 2009

Kids do the darndest things

Oct. 16: From “balloon boy” Falcon Heene to a boy who stole his parents’ car, kids can be unpredictable and mischievous. NBC’s Jeff Rossen has the story.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> trouble in the past.

>>> now to more on that 6-year-old boy who set off a frenzy when everyone thought he floated off in a homemade balloon . it got jeff rossen thinking about how kids do the darnedest things.

>> i'm sure you've had a lot of sleepless nights . kids are unpredictable, innocent, mischievous. i still have hair, but my daughter's only 3. who knows, in a few years she could join the ranks of falcon heene or the boy who stole his parents' car this summer or the girl who threw the ball at the phillies game. just roll the tape. he has a nickname already, balloon boy. falcon heene was not in the balloon , of course, he was hiding in a born in the attic, but no one knew that as the balloon drifted in the sky and the story played out across the country.

>> we have a rather incredible breaking news story --

>> reporter: five hours of pure fear. normally, kids just torture their parents, but this one, this one had the entire nation on edge.

>> why were you in the attic?

>> i was scared.

>> reporter: you were scared? what were you scared of, falcon?

>> my dad yelled at me.

>> reporter: at least he didn't do this. this past july, 7-year-old preston scarborough stole his parents' car keys and then he stole the car, leading police on a high-speed chase that ended at his own house. it's okay. he had a good reason -- didn't feel like going to church. the family joined meredith on "today."

>> what is the punishment?

>> grounded to my room for four days, no tv, no video games .

>> do you think that's fair?

>> mm-hmm.

>> reporter: then there was the case this week when 6-year-old zachary christie brought this spork to school, a camping tool that includes a knife. the school kicked him out, then reinstated him.

>> she handed it to the principal, and when they called my name up, i was like, uh-oh.

>> reporter: sometimes it takes a while to laugh at our kids' antics, but there are those precious moments when you have to just laugh right there on the spot. remember this scene at a phillies game this summer? i think every dad in america felt his pain.

>> i had been waiting so long to catch a foul ball and here's my first one and over the edge it goes.

>> reporter: just when we forget they're only children, they remind us.

>> at the end of the day, these are children who have children's brains and developmentally, they're at different places. so, they're not going to think the way that we would think.

>> the kid thought he was going to get in trouble, so he hid in the attic. his parents found him. he was forgiven. they were just happy the kid was okay. he wasn't in the balloon at all. anyway, they let the kid go out to play. bad news, fell in a well.

>> reporter: we can all relate to this. when a child is helpless, like baby jessica, trapped in that hole back in 1987 , nothing else really matters. the thought of a little boy trapped in a balloon was so chilling, we had to watch. that's what we do when a child's in trouble, when the outcome is uncertain. for parents, real life can be so scary.

>> indescribable.

>> reporter: but when it ends like this, another reminder that balloon boy is only a kid.

>> this is a relief. we're going to watch him a lot closer.

>> yeah, just watching that piece, if you don't have kids out there, you're probably not going to have them.

>> exactly.

>> but they are a blessing sometimes.

>> but you're watching that thing, and just the prospect of him being in that balloon -- because it could happen. he could crawl in.

>> absolutely.