You said we did this for a show

The little boy who was not, after all, lost in an errant homemade balloon came up with a zinger in an interview the other day. “You said we did this for a show.”

What this line means depends quite a bit on how  ‘show’ is understood. If it means ‘show’ in a general sense of ‘putting on a show,’ then the entire affair may be a hoax. However, if ‘show’ means a specific ‘show,’ such as the TV program the family has participated on in the past, then the boy’s confusion is far more innocent; he thinks he messed up an important shoot for a TV show.

There are two more complications when parsing this sentence. The first is the past tense verbs ‘said’ and ‘did’ – both are very unspecific about when the boy was told ‘this.’ Before the balloon left? After? Just before the interview?  The second complication is ‘this’: What is the antecedent? The entire balloon incident? The interview that was going on at the time?

English can certainly lack preciseness. My instinct is the boy used some unfortunate syntax – stuffing a vague relative clause into the object slot of ‘You said’ – that has been interpreted rather freely to implicate his parents. The next few days will tell.

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