He stood at the edge of the woods, his eyes wide, his little face frozen in fear. "Deep dark woods in there" he said, his eyes sweeping the trees anxiously, "Gruffalo live here."
"Yes," I said, indulgently, stretching out a hand even as I walked towards the trees, "Shall we go and see if we can find him?"
"No." said John, with a quiver, his feet glued to the path. "I no like deep dark wood."
We stood in silence for a second as I looked up at the trees and wondered what to say next. For a moment, nothing moved, and then a couple of crows flapped noisily from a nearby tree and John screamed in pure, untempered terror and ran, panting and sobbing into my arms, gasping the word "gruffalo."
It took a long, long time to coax him into the deep dark woods. It took promises of sausages and assurances that gruffalo's aren't real. It took hints of hot chocolate and a big stick to beat off gruffalos, just in case.
But once we reached the clearing, in the centre of the tallest trees, all the effort seemed worth while. We set up our little stove and laid our blanket out on the bench, and as the glorious smell of sausages drifted up through the trees, all I could think was: we need to do this more often.
More map reading over breakfast. More camp-fires and cook-outs. More hide and seek in the woods. More hot chocolate from thermal mugs. More swinging from trees and treasure hunting on the forest floor. More gallivanting and whooping and laughing.
Yes, we need to do this more often. More adventuring together.