Did you hear about the little boy making a huge mess of all the play parks in Portsmouth?
He is a precocious freckle- faced four-year-old with a mission for mischief.
He arrives at the park and walks through the gate like he’s a cowboy strutting his way into a bar in an old wild west movie.
It is clear to see he is a very naughty boy and his mummy and daddy can only look on and shake their heads in embarrassment as havoc is wreaked by him near the swings and the slides.
If you grew up reading about or watching Dennis the Menace, that will give you an idea of what this wayward little boy is like on a daily basis.
As soon as he enters the play park, the sabotage begins.
He’ll take a long run-up to kick all of the woodchips on to the slide. If there’s a puddle he’ll jump in it causing the climbing frame to get very wet, slippery and unsafe.
And when his mummy and daddy give him a packet of crisps, he’ll chuck the wrapper and the crumbs on the floor to create an untidy mess.
He’s just a very naughty boy and for this reason all of the play parks in Portsmouth have been closed until the mess that has been created by him has been cleared and the parks have been deemed clean and safe for all the good boys and girls to use.
You just don’t expect this sort of thing to happen on your doorstep do you?
Well, it hasn’t because none of what you have just read is true. Instead it comes from my creative imagination.
It’s what I told my three-year-old daughter Alyssa recently when she requested a trip to the park on what was already an extremely busy day for us.
At first I just said ‘No’, but then came the inevitable reply from Alyssa ‘Why’?
This is when the wheels in my brain started turning.
I knew from experience that some of my usual answers to this question, like ‘not today’ or ‘the park is closed’ or ‘we’re too busy today’ would get another ‘why?’ directed at me.
This is when I came up with the story about this fictional Dennis the Menace-type character. To my surprise, it actually worked.
After I’d finished my stretched-out and long-winded explanation, Alyssa looked at me with a slightly confused and bamboozled look on her face and just accepted what I’d said.
I felt an overwhelming sense of achievement and couldn’t believe my luck – that is until five minutes later when Alyssa asked ‘is the park fixed yet?’