IT GETS BETTER! Oh my goodness, 2.5 is the best age yet. We just got back from a quick trip to Edinburgh for my mother-in-law's birthday. We have actually done a lot of traveling with K so far: family visits across continents, shortish vacations (2-5 days) in other countries/cities and many, many day trips to cities around England. K has always been a good traveler in the sense that she adapts well to change and sleeps in moving vehicles, but she was always just along for the ride. What does a baby care if she sees Westminster Abbey? Recently, she was more interested in spotting squirrels than admiring architecture. She still likes a good squirrel, but the difference between this trip and previous ones was night and day: she was interested in EVERYTHING! Like, the same things we were looking at!
Sometime about a month ago, K started mentioning "castles", a word that I had certainly not taught her. Nursery? Quite possible. It started in the sandbox, claiming that she was building a castle. Then she started building castles with blocks at home, and these really big soft play building blocks at her playgroup. When she had been going on about them for a while, Apo and I bought her a book with flaps (what kid doesn't like flaps??) about castles. I told her that princesses and kings and queens live in castles, but she wasn't too impressed. She is mostly into the castles themselves. Though she did take heed when she learned that knights ALSO live in castles - she likes knights.
Enter trip to Edinburgh, complete with CASTLE! How fantastic for a little girl who loves castles, to live in Europe where they HAVE castles. We walked to the two castles at either end of the Royal Mile and talked about what lovely castles they were. I showed her the bridge and the gate and the cannon (cannons are very heavy; Katka can't lift one. Mama neither. "Apo," she suggested, nodding wisely. Apo is surely strong enough to lift a cannon.) Then she had an ice cream that she insisted on eating SLOWLY to savor it as much as possible.
She also enjoyed the cathedrals we went in. "More castle! I so excited!" she cried. Sort of, I explained. This kind of castle is called a cathedral and it is very beautiful. "Bootiful," she agreed. She looked at the stained glass windows and guessed what the pictures were. She sat in the pews. She looked up, up, up at the ceiling.
We looked down every narrow, winding alleyway. We oohed and aahed over every view. We looked in gift shops and tried on funny hats. On our way back south Saturday, we stopped in Durham and York on our all-day trip. In Durham we visited the cathedral and looked over at the castle. Apo and I had a conversation about how do you explain "don't step on the graves" to a person who has no concept of a grave because they have no concept of death. Answer: you don't, you just lead them away by the hand. In York we visited the Viking museum and walked through town, stopping briefly in the foyer of Yorkminster. They were closed because it was time for evening service, but K and I listened to the singing for several minutes. We were VERY QUIET and cupped our hands to our ears because you have to talk softly in a cathedral and we wanted to hear the singers. K waved Apo over to make him listen, too.
The other main thing we did in all these places was take pictures! K is used to having her picture taken with us when we travel, but this time she kept posing and making us snap pictures of just her. Against a wall, standing on a post, sitting on stairs, everywhere! She seemed to notice a group of young Japanese tourists taking pictures and posing for them, because then she wanted to do the same thing. Her foot up against the wall, arm just so. Then she would move six inches over to the next nook and want another picture. I have to say, it was pretty funny.
In a toystore over the weekend we saw a Sherwood Castle happyland set and with all the castle love lately, decided to get it. K already has a cottage and some people from the same line, so we thought a castle would be a great staging ground for more play with those figures plus the couple of little knights and pirates she has. She loves it so far. She declared that the top tower was for dancing and put the princess (Marian) and Friar Tuck figures up there to dance together. I tried to suggest that Robin Hood might be a more appropriate love interest for Marian, but K seems to entirely reject the idea of Robin as a main character of any sort. She is a firm Marian/Tuck shipper, as she has showed the same preference for the few days since we got the set! I guess she likes the rare!pairs.
We had a blast with K on this trip. She still has no sense of history and she DID still misbehave some (lack of nap), but she understood what we were doing and she appreciated the travel and the sights and the sounds and the fun in a way she wasn't able to before. And that's BEFORE the sense of history kicks in! It is only getting better from here and we are so happy to be starting on this journey with her.