Do I have to spell it out?

F-u-n-n-y, isn’t it, the things you do as parents? Like spelling out certain words so that your children don’t catch on to their meaning.

It started with little things like j-u-i-c-e or the p-a-r-k - lest we mention the fateful word too soon or in some other context and Tibbons find his hopes simultaneously raised and dashed.

Oh, and then there’s the small matter of swear words too.

After a while it spread to other, rather unnecessary, words like when making a trip to the f-r-i-d-g-e. Granted, on occasion it might contain fancies such as juice that need spelling out, but it’s unlikely to cause a stir in and of itself. And yet there Daddy-O was, doing it anyway.

Having read this far, you will doubtless have realised two things. Firstly, this is an annoying habit. Secondly, it is pervasive. Not only has it spilled over into this column, it has found its way into my working life where I now ask colleagues if they would like to m-e-e-t to discuss. (At least the days of me waving at them my opening and closing my fist and saying buh-bye are behind us).

Like so many annoying habits that have gone before it, it’s also surprisingly hard to break. And believe me, I have tried. But you see if you can talk through an average shopping list in front of a toddler without giving rise to calls for each tasty morsel that gets mentioned. Sometimes needs m-u-s-t.

Of course, there is going to come a time when the old spelling trick lets us down - and given that Tibbons has started to “read” to himself at night, this may be closer than we think.

Perhaps it’s time to buy him an iPod and some headphones?