Daniel waved at his mother who was watching from the kitchen window. She waved back. He tossed his new football into the air and caught it again.
He was having fun without being bad. That was good.
That was before Daniel saw the neighbors' big, gray cat.
He watched it crawl along the top of the wooden fence that divided his back yard from the neighbors'.
"You mean old cat!" Daniel shouted.
Daniel didn't like that cat. He had tried to pet it once and got a big scratch.
The cat yawned, then scratched the top of the fence. Tiny pieces of wood floated down to the grass.
"Stop wrecking my daddy's fence!" Daniel demanded.
"You're in big trouble," Daniel said. He took the football and threw it with all his might.
At the last possible instant, it jumped out of the way. The ball flew over the fence, passing right where the cat had been.
"Wow!" Daniel whispered. He couldn't believe he'd come so close.
Then he heard a SMASH!
"Oh, no!" he groaned.
Daniel crept toward the fence and peeked through a crack. He saw his football lying by the wall of his neighbors' house. And right beside it was a big blue flowerpot cracked on one side. "Oh, no!" Daniel moaned. What am I going to do?
Daniel walked around to the gate.
I should ask for permission to go into our neighbors' yard, he thought. But then Mom will find out about the bad thing I've done. Daniel shook his head. He didn't want that to happen. Instead, he checked the latch. Good, it's not locked.
Opening the gate, Daniel walked inside.
He ran toward his football and quickly picked it up. Staring at the broken flowerpot, he wondered what to do.
Whatever I do, I better hurry, he thought. I shouldn't be here.
Daniel stuffed the pieces of pottery into the pocket of his sweatshirt.
"This is really bad," he mumbled.
Grabbing the flowerpot with both hands, he spun it around until the broken spot faced the wall. He smiled. The bad thing was hard to see.
Now I've got to hide the pieces, he thought.
Closing the gate behind him, Daniel searched for a place to hide the broken pieces.
"Daniel, where have you been?" Mom asked as she headed up the sidewalk. "I've been looking for you."
Daniel wanted to say that he'd been playing in the front yard. He wanted to lie.
But that would be another bad thing. He remembered his first bad thing: throwing the ball at the cat. He felt bad about the second bad thing: smashing the flowerpot. Then there was the third bad thing: going into the neighbors' yard without permission. He suddenly realized his fourth bad thing: trying to hide the broken flowerpot.
And now Daniel wanted to hide all his bad things with a big lie.
No, that would be really bad, he decided.
"Mom, would you still love me, even if I told you some bad things I've done?" he asked.
His mother smiled. "Of course, Daniel." She knelt beside him, so she could listen better.