When I reached the age where I wanted to wear jewellery, I pestered my mum to buy me some. ‘I just want one ring!’ I told her. ‘Pleeeeeease.’ But she refused. ‘I’m sorry,’ she said solemnly. ‘But it’s very dangerous to wear rings before your fingers are fully grown. They might grow suddenly overnight and the ring will get stuck on there forever. We really can’t risk it.’ I believed her for years. In fact, even now I sometimes check how my rings are fitting. Just in case...
My best friend’s mum used to tell us that the cigarette lighter in the car was the self-destruct button. ‘If you ever touch it, we’ll only have 60 seconds to get out of the car before it blows up,’ she told us. For years afterwards I was terrified to get in their car in case I accidentally knocked it. At least we never got burnt!
For some strange reason, my youngest son began refusing to eat fish at meal times. I didn’t want to cook him a separate meal so I told him what I was serving up was ‘sea chicken.’ He believed me for months until we had dinner at his grandma’s house. ‘Would you like some more fish?’ she asked him. The cat was out of the bag! I felt a bit guilty because he looked quite hurt, but he laughs about it now.
I had my tongue pierced years ago, and when I had my son he was very curious about it. I told him I’d licked tomato sauce off my knife when I was small and sliced open my tongue. ‘The doctors used this bar to fix it back on,’ I said. He never licked his knife when he ate after that!
My kids were curious about what their bellybutton was for, so I told them it was a screw to hold their bottom on. If they touched them too much, their butt would fall off. One day I walked into the kitchen to find my son clutching his bum cheeks, while his little sister giggled. ‘What are you doing?’ I asked, bemused. ‘I’m holding my bottom on,’ he said pointing at his sister. ‘She poked my bellybutton and I need to stop it falling off.’ Cuute!
I was in the queue for the ice cream van with my eight-year-old daughter when the kid in front of us ordered a double cone. Oh no, I thought, I know what’s coming... Sure enough, my girl spotted the huge treat. ‘I want a double one like he has,’ she said. Erm... you can’t,’ I replied, trying to think on my feet. ‘Your age has to be double figures before you can have a double cone. That boy must be 10.’ I was quite pleased with my tantrum-busting trick, but of course on our first ice cream trip after my daughter’s 10th birthday the joke was on me!
One night my seven-year-old son was refusing to go to sleep. He’s always making fun of the fact that I’m quite short, so I came up with a cunning plan. ‘If you don’t get a good night’s sleep, you’ll never be taller than me,’ I warned him. ‘You only grow when you’re snoozing.’ Funnily enough, I never had trouble getting him to nod off again!
My daughter asked me what the mannequins in a clothes shop were for. Seeing an opportunity for a quieter life, I told her that all the children who had a tantrum at the shops would end up stuck there forever. A few months later I took her and her cousin back to the shop. Her cousin started complaining about how she wanted to go to the burger place next door. ‘Shh,’ my daughter said looking at the dummies warily. ‘You better behave yourself or you’ll end up like that!’
My mum always told my sister Claire that her favourite pastry was named after her. For years I used to wonder why there wasn’t a ‘Chocolatey Emma’ named after me. It seemed so unfair. It was only when I was in my 20s that I realised a ‘Chocolatey Claire’ didn’t exist at all. But a chocolate eclair certainly does!
Every evening when I was small, my dad put his hand on my forehead. He told me it was his special ‘mind-reading’ grip. Then he would tell me what I’d had for lunch and what I had done at school that day. How does he know? I thought, convinced my dad had special powers. Sometimes I used to confess when I’d been in trouble just so he didn’t find out when he read my mind. It took me a good while to realise he just called my mum for an update before he left work. Sneaky!