The easiest thing to do is to lie.

My son has a tummy ache. I’ve told him to let the teachers know if it doesn’t get better and they will ring me and I will come and rescue him.

“But what if they don’t?”

“They will,” I lie. I know there is a good chance that they won't. But I can’t let him stay at home every time he has a tummy ache.

It’s a good job parenting is not a democracy. My eldest is already noticing my… half truths. He stores them up, then reminds me when I contradict myself.

Before too long I’d be out on my ear. But I am a life-long dictator. I could lie all day long, but for some reason I try not to.

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The next time he’s upset, I try a different approach. “Sometimes…” I start, searching for words, “Sometimes there are problems we can’t solve. Sometimes there are no perfect choices. The thing we don’t like might be the best thing to do. The most important thing is that we try our best, work hard, be kind to everyone as much as possible, and do our best to look after each other.”

My son thinks about this for a while. It doesn’t seem to be helping him. It’s vague and glib and non committal, but it’s not exactly a lie.

It doesn’t work. He is still upset by the contradictions and difficulties of life.

“Don’t worry,” I say, unable to bear his upset. “Everything is going to be alright.”

Of course it's not. Not always. All I can really offer him is this hug.

He hugs me tighter. Sometimes we want to be lied to. And the sad reality for him is, he has to believe in me. He literally has no choice.