A story about making excuses, recognising the truth, the importance of being truthful. Suitable for primary children and young teens ( 9-13 years)


The Day the Ladder Slipped

This was the day I fell from the roof as I was trying to retrieve my football from the gutter between our house and our neighbours.

What a disaster – the ladder slipped. I had not tied it to the down pipe like my dad always did. There was slimy green stuff growing on the guttering and the ladder just slipped sideways. I felt myself falling. I heard my voice shouting out …

“Help!” which was pretty stupid because I knew there was no one around. Crash, the ladder fell against my neighbour’s glass porch.

I remember thinking ‘I’m going to get cut up here, I must cover my eyes.’

I raised my hands to my face, but I didn’t feel anything. I just remember landing on the ground with a horrible thud. The ladder smashed the porch, but I had not been at the top of it fortunately, however I had fallen a long way and had landed awkwardly. My foot was bent at a funny angle underneath me and when I tried to stand up my legs wouldn’t take my weight.

Then the pain started. It was terrible. My Mum was at work and my neighbours were on holiday. If I was to get help I had to somehow move myself from the back garden up the drive to the road in the front. Then hopefully someone would see me and call for an ambulance. It was difficult to think straight because of the pain I was feeling. It came in waves and when it was at its worst I thought I was going to be sick. I managed to drag myself on to my hands and one knee. The other leg didn’t seem to belong to my body any more. It was just hanging on to me at the hip like a dead fish.

I heard my breath coming in great gulps. I was angry because I thought I may be crying and I didn’t want anyone to find me in tears. Then I realised that it was just my body reacting to the shock and the pain. I looked around for blood and couldn’t see any, so I thought I’d try pulling myself along the ground dragging the dead fish beside me.

As I got closer to the dustbin by the garden gate I spotted my brother’s old skate board tucked in behind a pile of newspapers. I pulled it out and tried to lay my unusable leg along it. It made my progress to the end of the drive much easier, though it still seemed to take ages. Eventually, trembling and gasping I reached the pavement outside my house. A man was walking along the road with his dog. He looked down at me as I reached up towards him.

The Day the Ladder Slipped

“Stupid kid,” he growled, “Those skateboards should be banned.” Ignoring my gasps and pained expression, he stomped away yanking his dog fiercely.

By this time I was beginning to feel faint. Sounds were coming and going and I couldn’t focus on anything. I wanted to cry out for help but I could not. I felt myself sink down onto the pavement and enter a kind of blackness. 

Next thing I knew I was being lifted into an ambulance on a stretcher. The blue light flashed turning the surrounding buildings a weird colour. Someone was stroking my forehead. It felt very comforting, and a kind voice told me I would be all right, ‘probably a broken leg’, they said.

I passed out again. I don’t remember anything after that until I saw my mum and dad looking down at me. I was in a strange room. The lights were bright and I could see pale curtains half enclosing us. My parents looked very concerned.

“Mum?” I said after taking in the scene, “Where am I?”

My mother immediately started to cry and to kiss my hand. My dad explained that I was in hospital and that I had had an emergency operation on my ankle. Apparently I had hurt it so badly when I fell that it would not have righted itself.  

Oh, no, not broken my ankle! That meant that I wouldn’t be able to play for the team this term. I couldn’t believe it. I had tried so hard for a place in the team, and they had finally selected me last week. Now this. I felt so stupid and so angry. It was the football that had caused this disaster in the first place. I let out a huge moaning sigh.

“Whatever happened?” said my mum; “We saw the ladder and the broken windows next door.”

I couldn’t tell them. How could I say I was such a lousy shot I had kicked the ball up on the roof? My dad had been pretty sarcastic about my place on the team. Now what would he say? I had to make myself into a hero instead of a laughing stock.

Then I saw it, a picture of our ginger tom, my sister’s pride and joy, up on the roof, crying and calling, needing help.

I told them how I struggled to lift the ladder up to the guttering, and how I managed to entice Thomas over to me, and how just as we were starting to go back down the ladder, it had slipped on the algae and I had fallen.

My mother looked at my father and he raised his eyebrows.

“I think I get the picture now. I did wonder, I must say, but I think I can guess what happened now.” He said.

“What do you mean guess?” I said, acting hurt, “I just told you what happened!”

“Dave, I took Thomas to the vet today. He’s still there, recovering from his operation,” said mother quietly.

“And your football is still stuck in the gutter, which is where it might as well stay for the next few months, because you certainly won’t be needing it. You’ll be able to help me in the shop like I asked you to. Sorry, son, but you never have been the greatest footballer in town, and I could really use your help on a Saturday afternoon. You can show me how to work out the accounts on the computer.”

I looked away, too embarrassed and disappointed to speak. 

“Tell you what, son, don’t make feeble excuses to explain away your carelessness and I won’t make fun of your sporting efforts. By the time your ankle has healed you will have taught me all I need to know about computing, and I’ll buy you that bike you’ve been wanting. That’s much more up your street isn’t it? You don’t have to score goals on a bike do you? Oops, sorry, Dave.”



1. Did the story remind you of anything in your life?

2. Why do you think Dave lied to his parents about the accident?

3. Have you ever lied to get yourself out of an embarrassing situation?

4. What do you think about the expression ‘Honesty is the best policy’?

5. If you tell lies, how will people know when you are telling the truth?

6. If people don’t believe you when you are telling the truth, how does that affect you?

7. Would you rather be known as a liar or an honest person?