I was never great shakes at school. My exam results were universally a disappointment. But if there’s one thing I do know, it’s words. I know a lot of them. I haven’t counted, but it’s got to be above average. Words like “zeitgeist” and “cantilever” and “aldi” and “lidl”. Some of them I know what they mean too. I’m a wordsmith.
So helping my son learn about words has been something I was particularly looking forward to. Together we would submerge ourselves in the wonderful, exciting, magical world of words.
“What’s that word, Son?”
“Come on. We know this.”
He gives me a look that not only says he doesn’t know, but that he resents being asked because he truly and deeply does not care. This beautiful father/son scene has been repeated every evening since he was a baby.
Then he starts proper school, and virtually the next day he can read. He takes a book about a slightly odd looking monkey on a skateboard out of his book bag, sits down and reads it to us. I am speechless. Initially. Then I start trying to take credit. “I’m taking credit for this.” I announce to my wife. She rolls her eyes.
Each night he reads us a different book from school. It’s as if he’s taunting me. “Some words have two letters that make a sound together.” I explain, trying to be all teachery.
“Yes, that’s right, Daddy.” My son congratulates me. “When two letters make a sound together it’s called a digraph.”
“Digraph?” I ask, smiling. Aah. That’s so cute. He’s making up words to try to impress me. He knows I’m a wordsmith. I laugh lovingly. I love this little fella so darn much. “Digraph. Ha ha. There’s no such word, son. But it’s great to get excited about words, isn’t it? Maybe one day you’ll know lots and lots of words, like daddy.”
“He’s very good with his digraphs.” His teacher tells us at the parent’s evening.