Who Is Running This Show?

“Watch out; if the wind changes, your face will stay that way forever.”

I have no idea of the origins of such warnings, but I gave them out to my children as freely as they were once given out to me. Why did I do this? What good could possibly have come from such nonsense?

Of course, it never stopped me pulling faces, and I have never suffered from my face sticking (so far so good), yet I still pass it on to the next generation as gospel.

This came to mind when my son asked me, some time ago during a quick trip to a Lidl supermarket,

“Did the wind change for that man, Dad?”

“Sssh – what do you mean?”

“Was he making a daft face when the wind changed?”

Quick thinking is the key in such situations – something I am incapable of – so I went with the classic stall:

“It might have.”

– followed by a swift change of subject.

Once again, my children place me on the spot. In the full glare of their honest, naive, scrutiny, I squirm at the blatant lies I have passed on so thoughtlessly.

I mean, who is the parent here? Who is running this show? Why am I the one feeling awkward about all this?

When my wife was caught creeping in to swap the tooth with the coin it was No more Tooth Fairy. The look of hurt. The accusation. The realisation that It was All lies. How could we do that to them? Shame on us.


But we enjoyed the collusion, the grown-up conspiracy. We bonded with the other parents, but boy are we paying for it now. We have the Dread of the Direct Question. The Cross Examination.

“Do storks really bring babies?”

“If I eat my crusts, my hair will go curly, won’t it?”

“Did man set foot on the moon?”

“People can be big-boned instead of being fat, can’t they?”

“Is Santa / Jesus/ Muhammad/ God real?”

“You’re not allowed to get married unless you really love each other, that’s true isn’t it?”

“Carrots make you see in the dark, don’t they?”

“If I swallow chewing gum, my insides will get all stuck together, won’t they?”

“If I sit on a cold stone wall or steps, I will get piles, won’t I?”

I blame the parents every time.


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