A way with words.
Fintan, eight, is a young boy of much whimsy. I am particularly fond of the way he expresses himself, with words, coming up, as he does, with striking expressions at times.
A couple of days ago, Tiarnan had been off school for three days in a row, sick. Fintan stood appraising his younger brother, then 5, with a somewhat cynical gaze.
“He’s coughing for freedom.”, he remarked, tellingly, on noting yet another seemingly theatrical cough from Tiarnan.
I had to laugh. That little sentence said so many things at once, about his outlook on Tiarnan’s situation. It had an admirable semantic density to it. As you probably note yourself, it spoke of Fintan’s belief that Tiarnan was not really sick and that his coughing was faked for the purpose of getting off school – and thus being “free” from constraint. Hence he is “coughing for freedom”.
It should be said, however, that Tiarnan did genuinely have a cough and a wheezy chest, which had woken him up in the night – so, as parents, we were not entirely mugs to allow him off school. However, Fintan believes otherwise, perhaps because Tiarnan is able to cough apparently on cue, when attention is upon him.
Fintan has made no indication of being interested in becoming a writer. However, as an observer of him, I have noticed that he is able to encapsulate thoughts in a pithy way and that he has his own characteristic style of expression. Furthermore, he likes to play around and joke with words, twisting their meaning to comic form. So, even though he hasn’t said he wants to be a writer, I do think it possible that, one day, he may very well be one – or at least someone who finds a creative use for words in life.
Posted by Valentine Cawley
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