Flake news!

An ice cream van with a 'flake news' sign claiming it is out of stock.

One of my earliest childhood memories concerns the use of a small fib to combat my reluctance to try a certain food. It was meat – I’m not entirely sure which kind – but I remember that it was at my grandparents’ house in Kent.

Probably desperate to avoid a standoff, my parents told me that it was something called ‘Sussex Ham’. And it worked.

My apparent patriotism for the county we hailed from was stronger than my disdain for the texture of the dish in question. One little mistruth prevented awkwardness.

Well, it did until I asked for it in a restaurant a few months later. But it worked in the short term. And all parents know the value of even the most fleeting minor acts of deception.

And I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve employed a fair few tall tales in my ten years of being a parent – and, as it happens, they usually seem to involve food.

Take recently, for example. I refer to this story as ‘flake news’.

An ice cream van has taken to thundering along our residential road, blaring out a particularly obnoxious rendition of Teddy Bears’ Picnic.

Usually, this is during the day. Specifically, when I’m in virtual meetings with colleagues. However, just lately, the eternally optimistic driver has been chancing his arm at bedtime.

What a totally rational time to give the kids a sugar rush. Plus, thanks to lockdown, we don’t have much in the way of physical cash.

What little remains of our coinage is kept aside in case the tooth fairy doesn’t have our new address.

So I told them that ice cream vans only play music when they’ve run out. It’s ridiculous and as old as the hills, but they bought it.

Now, every time the driver brazenly disrupts the relative peace of our suburban cul-de-sac, they all sigh and comment on his poor stock management.

Do I feel bad about this? Not really. We always have some in the freezer anyway and it’s funny. And it was more of an off-the-cuff remark than a lie. Just call me Mr Quippy.

So, while I otherwise believe in being open and honest with my children, there is still room for the odd bit of flake news.

Which fabrications of truth have you shared in order to avoid awkward situations with your kids?


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