I swear it's easier to wring water out of a dry sponge than it is getting any kind of information out of my five-year-old son.
"What have you done at school today, Isaac?" I ask, as I get in from work.
He shrugs, and continues playing with his toys. He doesn't even look up. I'm talking to a mop of thick blonde hair. Eventually, a response.
It's at times like this when I realise just how true to life all of those family sitcoms are, and I find myself pulling a facial expression exactly like Hugh Dennis's character from Outnumbered: looking up at the ceiling in unspoken exasperation, slightly pouted lips, silently wishing that my son would stop turning into a teenager quite so quickly.
"Oh, come on," I urge. "You must have done something. Did you do any drawing?"
"Yes." Still talking to the hair.
"That's good! What did you draw a picture of?"
"I drew a picture of when you and mummy locked me in a cage and went out and left me."
I'm struck speechless, as my brain tries to absorb the fact that my son has drawn a picture depicting child cruelty and handed it innocently over to his teacher, who is probably punching the number for Social Services into her phone keypad right this minute.
"But...we've never done that."
I scan my brain. Have we ever done that? I'm almost certain we've never locked him in a cage. In fact, make that absolutely certain. It can't have happened: we don't even own a cage. But now Isaac's teacher thinks we do.
Why do kids make up such extravagant lies, which they then spout out of their tiny mouths to everyone within a 10-foot radius?
This is the same son who, not long ago, toddled into pre-school singing about how much his daddy loves beer. I hardly ever drink, for crying out loud, but now all the classroom helpers think I'm an alcoholic.
Noah, our two year-old son, is becoming more articulate by the day - and so it won't be long before he's landing me in it with some random lie that has formed in his brain. It's great to see his speech progress so well – but some of his words aren't particularly clear, which can cause confusion.
'Carry' sounds like towel, so quite often he'll ask me to 'towel' him down the stairs, which is a bit weird. 'Blueberries' sounds like 'boobies', and so he often makes strangers feel very awkward when he tells them he likes 'boobies', especially big ones.
And 'pictures' sounds like the plural of a rather insulting word, often aimed at women, and so you can forgive the nursery staff for getting a bit offended when he points to the wall behind them, plastered with drawings, and yells 'pictures!'
It seems that children and words can be a dangerous combination. Parents' Evening is on the horizon, and when I walk into Isaac's classroom I'm expecting to see a wall full of scribbled drawings.
There will be one of a smiling family, enjoying the park; and one of a rainbow, right next to it. And, hidden away in the corner, there will be a little A4 drawing of a blonde-haired boy locked forlornly in a cage. I think I need another beer.
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