What are we going to tell them?

“What are we going to tell them?”

“Boys, are you almost ready to go?” I asked of my three teenage boys in the usual mayhem of an early morning start in preparation to get them to school - knowing full well the time it takes to drive the Kuranda Range to arrive at school on time.

           “Nearly, dad,” was the reply from one son.

            “Have you put the washing on the line yet?” I enquired in the knowledge that they are generally most diligent in completion of their morning chores.

           “Not yet, dad,” was the response from another.

            “Okay, but you better get on with it,” I replied without due concern, “otherwise we’ll be late.”

           A few moments later, I hear …

           “Dad, you better come and see this, quickly.”

           Attuned to the sense of urgency in my son’s voice, I made haste to the lounge room where each of my lads was aligned at the front door.

           “Oh, my God, will you look at that?” was my astounded response to what was prancing up and down right in front of our front door.

           There he was, as large as life, a rather sizable cassowary, marching up and down in front of our house. We all watched in awe as this magnificent creature of the rainforest paraded himself before us.

           “Can we go outside?” intoned one son.

           “Not on your life,” I replied in earnest, “those things are dangerous.”

 At that same instant, the cassowary decided that he’d had enough of his prancing and stood directly in front of us and started this warbling sound.

           “Warble, warble, warble,” said the cassowary.

           “What’s he saying, dad,” asked another son.

You know how it is as a father of teenage children – you are supposed to have all the answers to life’s important questions.

           “Dunno, son,” was my informed reply, “I don’t speak cassowary.”

Anyway, after a few more minutes of listening to the cassowary, our dilemma became apparent. The washing still had not been hung out. But, how to get to the line unscathed while Mr. Cassowary was playing sentry?

           Then, our real dilemma became apparent.

           “What are going to tell them?” asked one lad.

           “Huh?” was my informed reply.

           “Dad, if we are late for school, what excuse do we use?”

All at once the penny dropped – I understood our predicament with perfect clarity. Schools have heard them all before, haven’t they?

           ‘The dog ate my lunch and I had to make another one’, or maybe, ‘The cat got run over and we had to get another one’ is probably another.

           Anyway, as all of these possible excuses ran through my head, I thought that maybe we should just tell the truth, but … ‘A cassowary wouldn’t let us out of the house’ just didn’t have that ring of credibility to it.

           Thankfully though, Mr. Cassowary got bored of prancing and warbling and eventually succumbed to the pleasures of the rainforest, allowing us to put all hands to task and hang out the washing.

           As fortune would have it, we managed to make it to school with a few moments to spare. A fact for which I am most grateful, given that I was still in debate about whether to tell the truth (at risk to my reputation), or tell a wee-white lie that did not defy any sense of reason.


Stephen Chong

15 August 2016

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