I love surveys when they confirm what I think. A study published in Britain earlier this month has revealed that the more time a father spends with his child, the higher the child’s IQ is likely to be.
I’m so glad. I spend a lot of my very little quality time with Oishi. (The BlackBerry makes sure that even when you can get Baba out of office, the office always follows like the Vodafone pug.)
So I told my wife that — thanks to me, yes — our girl will have higher IQ than the chap next door who plays chess and always scores the highest in Maths but does not spend much time with his father because his father is always travelling on work.
I thought we were sorted.
“Yes, you spend a lot of time,” my wife said, “but doing silly things like prancing around the flat with her, letting her try wine and beer every now and then, and trying to teach her things about sports.”
I looked at my wife, bewildered. This was a Sunday morning and my daughter and I were practising our back swings with plastic tennis rackets. “Hit through the line, through the line,” I was telling her.
“Why don’t you take more of an interest in her studies? You could help her with the English grammar homework she has got.”
My wife thinks that English is my strong point. It’s not. And certainly not grammar. (I get panic attacks about prepositions and text my publisher in the middle of the night. No, he does not reply.) But being reasonable — and uxorious — I agreed.
We were getting along swimmingly, me sipping beer and reading and Oishi ticking off adjectives in phrases she had been given to tick them off from when these two turned up:
a) one of them
b) last night.
“Baba, where are the adjectives? Are there any adjectives?” Her brow writhed in puzzlement, her tone was imploring.
“Wait, let me think,” I said, and disappeared into the other room to smoke a cigarette.
When I returned, she was still at it. Quietly wondering. “Mmm,” I said, “I think ‘one’ and ‘last’.”
“Are you sure?” she asked.
And as soon as she did, I wasn’t.
Now my copy of Wren and Martin is at my parents’. The local Crossword doesn’t have one. What’s more, the bloke doesn’t even have the sense of humour to ask if the book is about ornithology.
So I called up Oishi’s godfather, who, sensing the urgency, put on hold something phenomenally important (like smoking two cigarettes at the same time).
“You’re right,” he told me. “‘One’ describes the pronoun ‘them’ and ‘last’, well, you know.”
I asked Oishi to go ahead and tick.
The homework came back with both crossed out. Everything else, everything, which is to say, that she had done without my help, was perfect.
I asked around in the office the day after. (People are supposed to know about these things in a newspaper office, aren’t they?) Some mumbled things about adjectives being the qualifying attributes of… but not numbers or time… or some rubbish.
“Look, I told you,” I said to my wife, “grammar isn’t my strength.”
We returned, Oishi and I, to practising back swings with plastic tennis rackets. And to my other strengths: prancing around the flat with her, listening to music appallingly loudly, having involved conversations with her and letting her sample beer and wine every now and then.
PS: Do you know if I got those adjectives right? I really need my copy of Wren and Martin.