6th – 8th graders actually ask this often enough to write about.
I have been told I look Italian which must be why kids get these ideas in their heads. The kids who ask are typically the ones who also get into trouble with their teachers for behavioral issues. Every class seems to have one of them, if not more, once they have hit the 6th grade. There are certainly behavioral issues much earlier but the knowledge of the mafia tends to wait until they are a bit older.
Depending on how they are behaving, I will use one of two answers…
If they are the kids I mention above my typical answer is “I used to be. (Pause) Do you want me to act like I used to?”
If I don’t detect the bad behavior I just say, “I used to be” and leave it at that.
If they are older kids, some kids will believe me where others will outwardly question me. Not wanting to have kids thinking I make things up I give them a chance to Google my name on available devices. If they don’t have them I let someone use a computer in the room. Once they have done this I have them look up a book title I have authored, “The Crooner and the Russian Mob”. Once they see this on Amazon and my photo, the room either goes very quiet as they wait for my next comment, or it explodes in excitement. I never imagined how silly kids could be when they think they have met someone famous.