Alexander, at three years six months, is becoming interested in reading. “Wozz it sezz?” is one of his commonest questions. Now you may not have noticed, but the world, well certainly Britain, is full of signs saying “Danger, Caution, No something, X is not allowed.” Reading these signs has led Alexander to become an enthusiast for No signs and to start drawing them.
His interest started at the duck pond, where a sign says “Caution. Deep water. No swimming.” Alexander liked me to read it to him again and again. When three-year-olds like something they like to do it again and again, including me swinging him around by his arm and foot.
“Grandad’s tired and dizzy. Two more times.”
In Liverpool Alexander learnt to read a sign that says “No swimming. Danger. Deep water,” only he substitutes big for deep.
But No signs are his greatest love. We find him pictures on the Ipad, and he chants them adding his own.
“No smoking, no dogs, no swimming, no spitting, no fishing, no phones, no poo poos, no pushing, no running, no shouting, no pee pees in the pants, no cats, no elephants, no singing, no shouting, no phoning allowed, no skateboarding, no monkeys, no guns, no parking.”
And then he progressed to drawing them. They are a good thing to draw in that you draw whatever is banned in the centre of the page, then a red circle round the outside, and finally a red slash across the middle. Perla, his mother , helps him, and he does “no shouting” and “no poo poos in the pants,” both of which are messages for him. But he also draws his own. I’m not sure what the one below is banning, but it’s a good picture of a person; it could be that what look like legs might be pee pees.
But then Alexander goes Surrealist and does a sign that says “No As.” So I say “That means your name is Lexander not Alexander.” He laughs. I don’t think that he has a particular aversion to A, it’s just that that’s the letter he’s learnt to write.
Now through him I notice that the world is full of such signs. On the short walk from we pass signs saying “Danger: safety helments must be worn” and “No parking of unauthorised vehicles.” I read them to Alexander, much to his pleasure.