I’ve had a couple of house guests during the past week.
A good friend of mine is temporarily between houses, so while her other half was abroad for business, she and her three-year-old son came to stay with me.
It’s been a bit of an eye-opener, to be honest.
It’s not that I wasn’t expecting the boisterousness and the over-tired grumps – to be honest, that just fits in with my household ethos.
It’s more about the truly astonishing amount of rules he has to follow.
Most are about his ablutions – going to the loo, the washing of small hands and the cleaning of baby teeth.
Then there’s dinner etiquette – not yelling, not taking three days to eat a fish finger, not eating the cat food, not undressing at the dinner table. Things we can all not do with being reminded, I’m sure.
It made me realise how many rules we all have to follow in order to keep healthy, not irritate others around us and, if we’re lucky, get the chance to stay up a little bit past our bedtimes.
One of the funniest things I learned, though, was his approach to making friends.
Apparently, at ‘school’, it’s easy. You simply walk up to someone, ask if they’re your friend today and if they are you start playing and if they’re not you find someone who is.
There’s no jealousy, no tantrums and I’m reliably informed that my young pal’s playgroup is absolutely not World War Three-year-old.
The point I’m taking a bit of time in making is that, though my small friend Austin has a lot of rules to follow, the rest of us could possibly do with a refresher.
No, I don’t mean about taking clothes off at the dinner table. I assume we all know that that’s frowned upon in polite company.
I just mean about playing nicely together, not yelling and accepting that some days we’ll be friends with some people and other days we won’t.
I don’t know much about foreign policy, but I can’t help thinking that at a time of huge worry about what’s happening in the Ukraine, the European and US governments could learn from Austin.