We enjoy visiting Kew Gardens, a beautiful botanical garden here in London. There’s a log trail at the far end that the children love but it’s half-an-hour’s walk.
We try to take the straightest route to the logs because the children get very tired by the end. It’s not much fun carrying two exhausted children for over a mile back to the car, with two more in the buggy complaining that they’d rather be held.
On this occasion, as often happens, we are waylaid by Interesting Things.
It takes twenty minutes just to get inside. The children decide that the base of the tree next to our parked car makes a wonderful bath for snails, so they spend twenty minutes digging around in the mud with sticks. They could stay there all day.
No sooner are we inside than we discover badgers’setts, trees to climb and sticks to collect. We’ve been there an hour and we are less than fifty yards from the entrance.
What to do? The logs are on the far side of the gardens. Do we remind the children that they'd like to get to the trail, cajole them to keep walking and insist that they avoid distractions along the way? For what? So that they can do exactly the same thing when they reach the log trail (i.e. have fun and do something interesting)?
What do we gain by uprooting them from their play and insisting we get going?
And what do we lose?