Sometimes you want to do something that's difficult.
Not necessarily because it is difficult, mind you. We're not talking about things like, say, climbing a high mountain or running a marathon, things that would almost not be worth doing except that they are difficult to complete.
No, I mean activities that have real intrinsic value -- you want the experience for some other reason -- but nevetheless you can easily foresee difficulties. You know they are coming. You want to do the thing anyway. But wanting the thing, deciding to do the thing, will not make the difficulties go away. They will still be there.
And so will the reasons you had for doing the thing in the first place.
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So it is with taking five children to Rome. I wasn't exactly sure what we were in for, but there were some parts I expected would be hard. The flights, for one thing. The late-night dinners. Walking long distances. I expected a sore back from carrying the baby. I expected some squabbling.
All this has come to pass.
I knew it would.
And yet we chose to come, to set aside money for six years, to leave school and work for a month. We chose for reasons, reasons that have not expired. We are here. This is what we make of it.
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I tried not to schedule much, preferring flexibility, but there were two items that had to be scheduled in advance or not at all. The first was a tour of the Colosseum and Forum. We did that today.
I have good pictures of smiling kids.
The tour was truly interesting. It was also gruelingly long for my four-year-old and baby. The baby had a long time in the middle of screaming in the carrier until I got him settled down and he slept. The four-year-old started misbehaving on the top level of the Colosseum.
Right after this he was climbing steps he shouldn't have been.
Sara, our guide, really did a great job engaging the kids with quiz questions and with a book of pictures showing what the buildings might have looked like many centuries ago.
But there is only so much you can do. Eventually the 4yo had to be carried, and the 8yo (who had refused to eat breakfast) trudged groaning forward with glazed eyes.
i really should have gotten a picture of that, but I did 't know how without insulting one of them.
The whole experience, from leaving the apartment to walk to the Colosseum, to getting back in the apartment for lunch, was about four and a half hours.
And we were so tired. So tired that we could not even stop for gelato. We got back, the kids turned on the TV and collapsed on the couch, I asked Mark to go out and bring back sandwiches. And Cokes. I specially requested Cokes.
At lunch I turned the usual question on its head by asking everyone to name the worst thing that happened to them today so far. This cheered people up a bit. The four-year-old gave an answer that, in a roundabout way, meant "The part where we were on the tour."
But then we did the usual thing and asked about everyone's best thing, and it turned out that there was a best thing. Even though for one kid it was "This sandwich."
(For me it was the Vestal Virgins' house.)
Because you know, we are here for reasons, and the difficult -- the expected difficult -- doesn't take them away.