Five years ago today – 6th December 2007 – my life changed immeasurably (for the better) when Isaac, the first of our three children, was born. It’s been a rollercoaster ride since then, with the world around me a bit of a blur as it has whizzed by faster than my brain can keep up with. It’s hard to believe that he’s five already, but I’m thankful that we have a comprehensive photo record which has mapped the changes of a boy who seems to be growing older in a hurry.

With a bit of commentary thrown in, here is a representative set of images which map out Isaac’s first five years and throw some light on the person behind our not-so-little boy.

In the beginning …

Isaac Thomas Liew Wai Kin (the last two words are his Chinese name) was born about ten feet from where I am writing this post, in a birthing pool in our dining room. He didn’t have the smoothest passage into this world – the umbilical cord was briefly wrapped around his neck – but despite a couple of bumps and bruises there were no major complications.

One day old and making our hearts melt already

It wasn’t long before his proud father was busy snapping hundreds upon hundreds of photos of our baby boy. (I wouldn’t be surprised if for the first few months of his life Isaac thought that my nose was in fact a Canon zoom lens.) All the obligatory photos are there: family pictures, his first nude shot (his first bath, which I’ve backed up safely to embarrass him with at his 18th birthday party. And his wedding. And at every other possible occasion in the future.) Plus all the ones that you take just because they’re, well, funny …

Yeah, yeah, yeah, very funny, Dad


One of the joys of having any child – but in particular a first child – is that you get to see them rapidly attaining a series of milestone ‘firsts’. There is the first step:

This is SO much better than crawling!

The first trip to the beach:

Surf’s up!

Their first experience with snow (this was early 2010, less than a fortnight before Toby was born):

Are you sure you want to start a fight ?

And then there are the ‘big boy’ milestones that come a little later, such as the first day of school this September:

I call this my ‘Littlewoods catalogue’ look

Followed shortly by the first successful bike ride:

The next Mark Cavendish?

Big brother

One of Isaac’s most pleasing characteristics is that he is such an even-tempered and affable boy. From the moment Toby – and more recently Kara – arrived, there has been hardly a trace of sibling rivalry. Zac has always been a true big brother to Toby.

A strong bond

And the feeling is entirely mutual. Despite the odd dispute, Toby looks up to his big brother in every sense of the expression. Watching them play (mostly) happily together is a joy to behold.


When it comes to his baby sister, Isaac is just as caring and protective as he is with Toby. I hope they will always be as close as they are right now.

She ain’t heavy, she’s my sister

At work

I wonder what Isaac will be when he grows up. Maybe a scientist? (Hopefully a good one like his mother rather than his father’s laughable attempts at a Chemistry degree.)

I’ll just put a plate in the middle and that’ll be a benzene molecule

Or perhaps something more practical like a handyman?

Pass me the spirit level, please

Or how about something or a more creative nature – an artist, maybe?

Mess? What mess?

Or perhaps a musician? He could be a pianist …

I call this ‘Racket in D minor’

… Or a club DJ?

I’m so cool …

On second thoughts, maybe not that last one.

At play

While it’s fair to say that Isaac is a serious-minded boy, when he is having fun he throws himself into things wholeheartedly. He’s always had an infectious laugh and a smile which lights up a room.

A man walks into a bar …

And nothing makes him happier than discovering technology. (Hmm, I wonder which parent he gets that from?) He learned how to operate my iPod in the same week he took his first steps. The first time he correctly spelled his name was typing it on my iPad. He knows his way round the CBeebies website like the back of his hand. And he discovered all by himself exactly what Ctrl/Alt/Down does to your screen. (If you’ve just tried it, Ctrl/Alt/Up undoes it.)

You should listen to this album, Dad

Indeed, I often joke that I don’t actually own an iPhone, iPad or iPod – they are merely devices that belong to Isaac which he kindly loans out to me for the day. It won’t be long until he realises that ‘parental controls’ on computers are what kids use to restrict what their parents can do, and not the other way round.

And this is how you hack into the Pentagon mainframe …

He’s not 100% geek, though. (95, maybe.) Like most boys, he can’t resist a good slide:


Quintessentially Isaac

It’s the little things that mark our children out as individuals, each unique in their own way. It was a sad day when Zac finally emerged from his pink phase earlier this year. There was a time when he unselfconsciously adored everything pink, and it was such a defining characteristic of his that a part of me still wants it to come back.

Pink jumper, pink baubles, pink everything

He has also taken a real interest in cooking. The first film he ever sat through from start to finish was Ratatouille, and there are few things he likes better than to spend an afternoon baking or making soup with Heather.

What, no Michelin star yet?

And many a weekend morning has been spent together at our favourite haunt, sipping a babyccino and chewing the fat over the events of the week. Coffee shops are our special place, where Zac and I like to kick back, discuss the burning issues of the day and enjoy a little father/son time, far from the madding crowd.

Coffee time!

But, above all, Isaac is a deep thinker. He is intensely inquisitive about the world around him and takes great delight in word-play to show off his verbal dexterity. Like father like son, I suppose.

The Thinker


Which brings us to today. Not surprisingly, Zac bounced out of bed even earlier than normal – and ‘normal’ for him is typically 5:30-5:45am – and was soon tearing into his presents. He’s having a couple of friends around for a birthday tea after school this afternoon and then holding a big party at the weekend. And then we wind up the excitement all over again for Christmas … it never ends …


Happy birthday, Isaac. It’s been five wonderful years so far. Let’s make this sixth one even better, eh?