The Vegetable Truck: Lying to My Children

When our twins were born, my husband and I were in year four of a five-year-stint in Thailand. As you can imagine, there were a plethora of noises in Bangkok, most of which assaulted our ears with video-game intensity. Sounds reverberated off skyscrapers the way noises echo in a canyon.

My husband and I talked about recording our own Bangkok Symphony, but we were too lazy. Had we done so, though, such a composition would have included the following:

  • the insidious jingle of the ice cream truck, over and over again and again,
  • the rhythmic pinging of the blind man’s reebar-cane as he hiked the streets selling lotto tickets,
  • the souped-up, four-stroke motorcycle taxis that broke the speed of sound, and
  • the discordant squawk of the loud speaker as the vegetable truck offered its wares.

It sounds exotic until it ceases to stop.

Once we got the 2-for-1 deal on our babies, however, our tolerance for external noise increased. We had our own indoor cacophony.

Fast forward two years.

We moved back to Canada, where the loudest sounds in our suburb were garage doors humming closed, lawn mowers sparking to life, and the occasional ice cream truck.

Whenever the ice cream truck circled our suburb, belting out “It’s a Small World After All,” our kids would ask what that sound was.

Each time, we answered the same: “It’s the vegetable truck.”

We first uttered this refrain when our twins were two.

By the time they were five, they’d say, “The vegetable truck’s coming.” Then they’d continue playing, unmoved by the thought of door-to-door turnips.

What kind of parent convinces their children this is a vegetable truck?

This brings us to a few weeks after their sixth birthday.

“Mom, the vegetable truck’s actually stopping,” Vivian said. She and William opened our back door and climbed onto the patio table, giving them a direct view over our fence. If you remember the sitcom Home Improvement, think Wilson on stilts.

“Jenna’s getting vegetables!” William announced.

I watched Jenna, our neighbour, disappear behind the truck.

A moment passed. My lie hung in the summer air.

The ice cream truck and its ditty started up the street.

Jenna walked down the sidewalk, ice cream in hand.

Vivian and William muttered to each other before screaming, “Mom!”

And the myth disappeared faster than the jingle.

Add this to the list of things our kids can tell their therapists in a decade.


Any lies out there? ice cream stories?

Photo (cc) courtesy of Tahoe Arts and Mountain Culture


  1. Courtney says

    Leanne, your post was helarious. My mom for YEARS told us that the ice cream truck was a music truck. So everytime it passed our house, we’d yell out the front door “Thank you for playing music for us!!!”.

  2. says

    I always told my daughter it was the music truck. Yup, the magical truck that brings tinny music to neighborhoods everywhere. Can I get the number of your kids’ therapist?

  3. writingjoy says

    Genius. At least for six years.

    We told our kids that it was a music truck. The myth dissolved as soon as the neighbor kids (whose parents indulge their every whim) were old enough to patronize the mobile sound-polluting establishment.

    • says

      I can’t believe I never thought of saying the music truck! Feel rather stupid. I wish there was a music truck…only it should play baroque on a good sound system.

  4. PaigeN says

    i have to admit i’d never heard of a vegetable truck. And, it never occurred to me to use another description of said ice cream truck. My standard line is “we have no cash”. Which is usually quite true. When the ice cream trucks start taking debit cards we’re all in BIG trouble!

    • says

      Anytime we go out, I seem to say, “That’s too much money.” So now I think I’m making my kids paranoid about money. Which come to think about, may not be a bad thing!

  5. says

    love it.
    our big lie right now is to keep our son away from the pond. we tell him its a snake pond and if he gets too close the snakes will grab him and bite him and eat his legs off.
    ya, its graphic and likely waay too disturbing for a 2.5 year old but it works. it keeps that little bugger away from the water. scare him to keep him from drowning i think is a good trade.

    • says

      Yes, I’d say that’s a good trade off. It reminds me of the Robert Munsch book “A Promise is a Promise”, where an Inuit community tells children about a scary monster named the Qallipiluit to keep kids away from the cracks in the ice.

  6. says

    2-for-1… Priceless! Is the vegetable truck copyrighted, by any chance? If not, I’m stealing it; only way to keep my almost-2yo away!! For now he likes the jingle and has no idea… 😀

  7. says

    Frig. Wish I’d thought of that. I told my son that crackers were cookies until he was 4 (“Have a wheat thin cookie, sweetie…”) so he probably wouldn’t have believed me anyway.

  8. Sarah Kramer says

    I told our children the truck (which rings a bell in Australia) was a man collecting scrap bits of furniture/wood/”any old iron”, but that’s only because I thought that that was what it was. having spent my childhood growing up in central London that is what is was – sounds rather Dickensian doesn’t it?

  9. says

    Thank GOD — it seems like every second post I’ve read this week is by a parent swearing they’ll ALWAYS be brutally honest with their kids, and I was afraid I was the only lying liar mom left in the world.

  10. says

    I told my kids that buttered bread with cake sprinkles was “candy” and that lima beans were “big people vegetables.” (The lima beans were a hit for all of two meals, but more than I could’ve hoped for.)

    I also told my youngest that the Tooth Fairy’s delay in collecting her tooth was because of our 5,000 mile household move. She received a letter from the International Federation of Legendary Figures explaining her receipt of euros rather than dollars.

    Good moms lie because good moms care. The brutally honest mom is just that: brutal.

  11. says

    I almost fell out of my chair. Too funny!

    My kids asked one day why I was getting so much grey hair in my beard. I told them another hair turns gray every time they make me yell! ;D

  12. says

    Brilliant! I wish I had thought of that when our kids were younger. Of course, our oldest two used to fight over who got to have more broccoli, so that may have backfired…

  13. says

    I love how your lie “hovered in the summer air”!

    As a child who was lied to about nearly everything, I vowed to be relentlessly honest with my own children. (I think this is why G-d broke my womb and allowed me only to have one.) But seriously, my Monkey is headed for the therapist for too much of mom’s honesty. What can I say, I wasn’t going to let him believe what he had heard: if a boy pees in a girl and they are both in Virginia, they can make a baby! So kill me!

    The Vegetable Truck. What a hoot!

  14. says

    This is just another example of why I love your writing. So funny. What a strange path you’ve followed geographically. All those experiences just make you even more interesting.

  15. says

    My parents convinced me that the shag carpet in my room had snakes in it that would bite me if I got up after bedtime.
    But therapy works wonders and my house has all hardwood floors so no harm no foul..
    Vegatable truck.. good one.

  16. says

    I love cream of mushroom soup. My kids hate mushrooms, but come on, who doesn’t love cream of mushroom soup? So I told my kids it was called cream of grape-skin soup. They believed it for many years, AND they love it and still do.

  17. says

    My son grew up knowing oatmeal as cookie soup. Everything else was a form of cookies or nuggets. Perogies became potato nuggets.
    My daughter knows the tooth fairy rarely comes the first night because she is not like santa with special time powers and there are so many houses to get to on her list.

    Also, my husband once convinced a friend’s son that the tooth fairy sells the collected teeth to cereal companies and that is what fruit loops are made from. I wish I could remember how that all began because it sounds horrible with no other information. lol

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