Obviously when in England and Ireland, you have to visit castles and estates, because there are so many of them. Some of them require that you take a tour and stick with a group of people. Others will let you wonder around by yourself. But none will let you touch the furniture. So the conundrum is, how do you entice a toddler to not touch and to stay to with the group?? To tell her there is a princess living there. And she doesn’t like it when you touch her stuff. The first estate we visited had me a little apprehensive about the tour. But Neena wanted to do it, and it was rainy and windy, as it does usually in Ireland. I clearly explain to O that she needs to listen to the lady, and that she can’t touch anything, and if we are really really lucky we can see the princess. The first two rooms go OK, until the library where she rebells. She starts running her hand across the bookshelves and couches as she walks by them. I tell her to stop touching. She indignantly puts her hands behind her back, shoots me a dirty look, and starts walking away from me, but still maintaining a crook-eye contact with me. As she rounds the corner around the couch, and as the lady is explaining something about the way the library was used, O trips on her own feet, and falls flat on her face (I would assume. I couldn’t see her because of the couch.) I gasp, waiting for the cries, but O gets up, hands behind her back, and still giving me the crook-eye, and she walks away. The tour guide and several other people including Neena and Teeve just start laughing. Unfortunately, by the time we made it through the house, the princess was gone.
The next few castles, the same thing. The princess was not there. Shockingly, she never questioned if the princess did indeed live in the ruins of a castle with no windows. Possibly next trip, I won’t get away with that for too long.
By the time we finished with our trip, right before we made it back to Neena’s house, we decided to stop at one last Palace. O was in a bad mood. After all she had been traveling for more than three weeks now, and I’m sure she was missing her routine. But we all wanted to see this house, and we stopped. Again, I start the spiel with the princess, but I was almost convinced that she didn’t believe me. I mean, seriously, how can every single castle we visited not have 1 freaking princess in it?? This particular Palace was intact, had guards in each room, and had really nice furniture on display. As we walk in, there are two ladies working at the desk, so they hear that I am telling O about the princess. Maybe she’s at home. One of the ladies looks at O and says, Dear, are you here to see the princess?? In her lovely grandma English accent. O’s eyes are about to bulge out of her head when she hears this. Finally someone else other than her mother is confirming that there is a princess. She nods her head enthusiastically. Well, I think she is upstairs. So if you are quiet you can probably catch her, the lady says. O grabs my hand, and pretty much yells at me, Come ON, Mommy! Let’s GO! And so we go through every room. Then we get to the toy room. Why do they always have this, and why don’t they have huge signs announcing them, so I can avoid them. O of course says, Can I play with them?? Oh you can’t the kids don’t like other kids touching their toys? They don’t like to share?? she asks incredulously. No, they don’t, I respond. OH NO, MOmmy! They are not nice, they are mean. We have to tell the princess. Come, Mommy, let’s tell the princess.
By the end of the tour, she is getting restless, and I can tell she is almost not believing me (again) about the princess. Neena and O are ahead of me, and I come up behind them, and I say, OH, I just saw the Princess. She was running down the stairs. She said she was having lunch with her mommy and daddy, and had to leave the castle. Oh NO, Mommy! Why?? And we keep discussing why, all the way back to the kitchens. On the way out, we run into the same lady that we met at the beginning of the tour. Oh, Did you see the princess? O shakes her head. I think she is in the garden. You might catch her. So off we go in search of the princess. But at this point, we all just want to head home. So dragging O from looking from the princess proved a little more challenging, until we are walking past a tower, and I say, Oh look, there is the princess! And I point at nothing. I can’t see her! I can’t see her! So I pick her up, and point, and she says, I see her! And we waive good-bye to the princess.
I might have scarred her for life, but hey, that’s how you distract a toddler!