Mightier than the sword

Can I tempt you with the specials? Can I tempt you with the specials?

Like his parents, ‘bookish’ is a good one-word summary of six-year-old Isaac. He loves both reading and writing. Bedtime – and bedtime stories – has long been a favourite part of the day for both him and us. And he can often be found sitting quietly at the dining table practising his spelling or writing letters and stories. Words are his weapon of choice, and he invests a lot of time honing his craft.

Anyhow, I was working at home today. Earlier in the day, Toby had set up a little restaurant in our living room – he’s very much into shops and restaurants at the moment, perhaps a career in retail? – and when Isaac returned home from school he immediately decided to create a menu board to match.

I wandered downstairs a little while later to discover the fruits of his labours, of which he was rightly proud. I was too.

Can I tempt you with the specials?
Can I tempt you with the specials?

I’m not entirely sure when it happened, but his handwriting is now better and neater than mine. (Those of you who have ever seen my handwritten scrawl will know that I didn’t exactly set a high bar.) Over the past 2½ years he has gone from painstakingly drawing individual letters – many of them the wrong way round – to writing out entire words confidently in joined-up writing.

I loved so many things about this. Firstly that he had done it to supplement Toby’s efforts, right down to having an Italian-themed menu to go with the pizza his brother had served on his tables. Then there was the impeccable neatness of his writing – when I first saw it I genuinely had to ask him if it was his. And finally I adore his attention to detail, from the accuracy of his spelling (the few errors he did make were all logical and understandable) to the little flourishes in his pictures – the dots in his ice cream are, he told me, vanilla seeds. But of course – his love of good food is something else he has inherited from Heather and I.

I’ve promised him that next time we go to a restaurant, we’ll pore over the menu and examine the spelling of tricky non-English items, as well as picking out any words that are misspelt. Like his father, Isaac is enough of a geek that cultivating his inner language pedant is merely leading him further up a path he has already started down. It won’t be long until I appoint him as my editor.

If, in the future, you ever need to write a strongly worded and beautifully crafted letter of complaint, Isaac’s your man for delivering some cutting words. Especially if it involves spaghetti.