Bits of the world are familiar enough that they exist only to be argued about (bedtimes, eating meals at mealtimes, sitting still in the car, and other rules invented by adults
And so much of it is completely new and fresh and exciting.
Sitting still on an aeroplane might be hugely boring, but a sheet of stickers can while away the hours. Little Fish's cousin Minnow (A junior Birdy Beamy) has a new mission in life. After generously distributing her stickers across the rows and around family and strangers, she sat pensively for a minute before declaring "there are a lot of people in other parts of the world who don't have any stickers at all". Indeed there are. And if, in 15 years' time you see that Operation Christmas Child has been replaced by Operation Stickered Child you'll know who to
Grown ups are boring. We sit and sip aperitifs as the sun sets. We want to appreciate the view, and yet we've seen thousands of sunsets before.
But when you're three, the priority is to play, play play.
We grown ups drive to Lake Trasimeno, then take a boat out to an island, and then want to walk around appreciating yet more beautiful views.
Minnow and Little Fish found the swings much more fun. We spent twelve hours in transit to get to Umbria (with another couple of days' travelling for the Birdy Beales to get down from their end of the country to ours before we even left), and then another hour or so getting to our island. Another hour lost sitting eating lunch, a meal Minnow at least is perfectly happy to skip. And yet the girls would have been just as happy with the swings in our local park.
Setting aside the fact that it's been too wet to use our local swings for weeks, was it worth dragging the girls so far for something they could just as easily do at home? I like to think it probably was; I have great memories of shared family holidays when I was a similar age. Admittedly it isn't the views and the important bits I remember, but the joy of making sand houses for frogs with my aunt; having to use strange holes in the ground in restaurants and cafes (toilets "a la turque"); and lying in tents in thunderstorms. Running up and down steep staircases with cousins; long, interminably long lunches where we children snacked on bread and potatoes as the adults around us fed their more sophisticated pallets; and falling asleep listening to people talking in different languages Small things, but still sweet memories. It was just a pair of rusty swings to us, just another thing to negotiate the children away from when the more adult adults were getting fretful for a change of scene, but maybe it'll be a nice memory for the girls as they get older. Maybe it won't, but they enjoyed it anyway.
More villages to explore, more winding streets, and everywhere smiling locals chattering to the baby and admiring the girls.
And everywhere an ancient history. We boring adults enjoyed the frescoes, the painted ceilings, the ancient plaques and monuments. Little Fish and Minnow enjoyed the echoes.
It's fun being three.