Daniel doesn't know it yet, but he already has his first Meccano set. It is the Special Edition 7080 100th Anniversary crane set. I have a strong suspicion that I also bought it for myself - because I have always wanted to experiment with it. I saw the box in a shop window and couldn’t resist the temptation.
I am sure that Daniel is still far too young to use Meccano. He has just turned five, and is more interested in learning the finer points of cricket and deciding whether the wheelies on his bike can be removed. So am I keeping the set under wraps for the time being. Perhaps you can help me decide when to give it to him. The proverbial aunt gave me my first Meccano set - a set 5 - when I was 10 years old. I have always thought that it was just the right age - when he will be able to use the nuts and bolts himself and follow plans.
Daniel was given a cricket set for his fifth birthday. We set up the wicket, and very carefully arranged the bales. 'What are the bales for Bampa?' I explained that carefully, and told him where to stand, just behind the crease and how to hold the bat. I told him that cricket had lots of rules - but he told me that he wanted to make the rules. I ignored that for the moment and bowled a ball. He hit it with gusto and I realised that I had a budding opener on my hands. I showed him how to score a run. We soon had the game going, and his little brother Joel, aged three, joined in. 'I want more rules' said Daniel, and I told him about the teams and how they were selected.
Suddenly Daniel said he wanted to play 'Flashing Green' . Now this is a game entirely Daniel's invention. He had brought home a large picture of traffic lights from school, and he wanted to ride his bike while I pointed to a colour. His brother joined in on the veranda, weaving in and out and coming to a stop on red exactly on the indicated line, and then moving off again on flashing green. He decided that the red light was for one direction only, and took the greatest delight in riding one way through red. I was very doubtful about the wisdom of this, but was loath to stop this game, which was accompanied by gales of laughter and ended with him riding clean off the veranda into his mothers flower bed.
Daniel takes great delight in his Brio train set. It is just the thing for a little boy. Daniel is very good at making quite complicated layouts, and he has been shown how to record them on paper. This stood him in good stead when we went off to Bekonskot model village when he worked out exactly where the trains would emerge from the tunnels.
Eventually every busy day comes to an end. 'Come on Daniel, its bath time'. Time for a good splash, adjust the water temperature, sail his tugboat, tease his brother and sing at the top of his voice.
Daniel's favourite book at the moment is the Red Balloon, a marvelous story about a magic balloon in Paris, which has a mind of its own. Guaranteed to make even the busiest little boy pause for a moment in wonder - as he drifts off into slumberland.
I thought to myself - 'The Meccano crane set is waiting for you, Daniel - my lovely boy'.