You buy your child complicated toys and what do they like best? Yes, stones and sticks. On our trip to Rome Number One Son found endless fun with dried out oranges in the garden. He piled all oranges up in a heap and ‘classified’ them by excluding all too rotten ones. Those with visible oozing brown holes had to go. We hope this interest can be directed towards biology or similar discipline in the future and does not suggest we have managed to bring up another archaeologist. That would have a severe effect to our ‘pension plan’.
Number One Son also showed interest in santpietrini, reversedly-positioned pyramid-shaped stones that have been used to cobble Rome’s historic pavements. While Italian toddlers were sitting quietly in a stroller waiting for a bus, our pride and joy insisted in sitting in a small earthy square where a planetree was growing next to the bus stop where we were waiting for a bus every evening. He was playing with a santpietrini stone as if it was a handaxe and then kept covering it with smaller stones and dead leaves, that were plenty, and dust. Alternatively, he was turning and piling the dry leaves along the pavement while waiting.
His real passion is diverted towards stones and gravel. In Rome he sat on a park walk way as soon as we stepped out of the bus and started organising gravel stones in piles – to the entertainment of the Romans sitting on a park bench on a hot August day. More entertainment followed when one or both of us tried to lure Number One Son back to our place of stay.
More gravel was available back in Britain. Number One Son’s grandparents live relatively near Brighton and with his Number One Aunt we visited Hove beach. It was a sunny, if windy day and red flags were plenty. It was no time to let him swim in the sea but he could divert his passion towards the gravel of the beach. He was looking for nice stones, big enough to create a heap that stood apart from smaller gravel. He was clearly also trying the feeling of the gravel under his feet in a true explorer fashion.