How long can you reasonably expect a three year old to stay still and seated while watching a performance? In fact, how many different performances can you reasonably expect to take a three year old to before his initial enthusiasm - or willingness to indulge his parent's enthusiasm - begins to wear off? After yesterday's festival going, I suspect I am a little closer to knowing the answer to both of those. Or maybe it is just me that is beginning to feel really, really tired.
Still, the day was not entirely without fun or excitement and began with another quintessential Edinburgh festival experience, waiting with fingers crossed in the returns queue for a sold out show. Yesterday was the first day of the book festival and we took a gamble on getting in to see Julia Donaldson (of Gruffalo fame) and friends perform and sing stories on stage. We got lucky and, with minutes to spare, ran to join the enormous audience of children with better organised parents who were already sitting there.
I am not sure that Arlo entirely understood (or particularly cared) that the woman behind the microphone was responsible for so many of the words we read together at home. However, watching an illustrator, David Roberts, produce accompanying drawings was especially cool, not least because we both got to witness that even people who draw for a living don't always keep their colours inside the lines.
Arlo's official verdict, 'It was really good'. His noisy laughs, smiles and sing-a-longs would bear that out. But between the laughs were equally loud unstifled yawns, grumpy frowns and murmurs of disgruntlement when he didn't get invited on stage again and then failed to catch a blooming chocolate coin like the boys in the row in front.
The whole thing over-ran to something like an hour and ten minutes and that definitely seemed to be approaching the upper threshold for Arlo's amenability. And then I really pushed it, suggesting we wait in a crazy long queue to get a couple of books signed (a bittersweet victory on my part as now, whenever we read 'Tyrannosaurus Drip' or 'Jack and the Flumflum Tree' I shall probably remember Arlo's far from ideal lie-flat-on-the-grass protest and his understandable - but somewhat embarrassing - insistence, 'I just want to run around!'