We’re having a schooling vacation in Washington D.C. this weekend. Here are a few of the early highlights.
One: Sam flew out a day ahead of us to make it here for his conference, so the kids and I endured our 4:30 am wake-up call and long day of cross-country travel without him. Our first plane was full of babies, and I spent the whole flight being grateful that this was not the trip I flew solo with a baby in the backpack, a toddler trying to wander off and a four-hour delay because of a snowstorm. Oh- I was also grateful for Southwest’s Wi-Fi and my kids’ phones.
Two: The two schoolish “vacations” we took last fall nearly did us in, so I was very careful as I planned this trip. [I tried to link my posts about those trips but apparently I was so traumatized I didn’t write about them.]
First, we opted not to drive. There are families who can drive two thousand miles together and still speak to each other at the end, but we are not one of them. Second, we rented a house instead of trying to cram five people into one (or even two) hotel rooms. When the kids were little, Sam and I always tried to get a hotel with a pool (kids who swim are kids who sleep), but our needs have changed. Our criteria now when we look for vacation rentals are location (close to our destination, or close to public transportation), a small kitchen (eating out with teenagers is really expensive!) and high speed internet.
Three: I pre-ordered groceries to be delivered soon after Sam arrived, and the minute we put our bags down, we were all snacking on carrots and guacamole. I know this sounds ridiculous, but teenagers are hard to feed and need to eat almost constantly, like toddlers. (Also like toddlers, the moment you buy a jumbo pack of cheese sticks at Costco, they announce they’re no longer eating cheese.)
Four: Last night Phoebe and Momo wanted to go out and explore, so we walked over to the Mall and admired all the national things: US Capitol, Washington Monument, Smithsonian Museums, National Ice Cream Trucks, National Carnivorous Plants (at the Botanic Gardens).
Five: Owen was done last night and opted out of the evening fun, and it was fine. It still astounds me that my kids (some of them, at least) are old enough to hang out at the house by themselves. I remember so vividly the years where it felt like they were stapled to my side, and we had to be together every minute. I am grateful for not having to drag an unwilling child along with us somewhere (or curtail everyone else’s fun because someone just can’t take it.)
Six: This morning we went to the White House. Of course, in the rush of trying to get five of us out the door for an 8:30 tour, I forgot my photo ID and our tour boarding pass. We were already on the train when I remembered, and I had to make a sprint to the opposite train, run back to the house, and grab everything. The White House self-guided tour was quick. It felt like the security to get in was longer than actual the tour, and I wondered if the tour changes based on the administration (i.e., a longer, more informative tour might reflect a president who values history). I was struck again by the price paid by the children of our modern presidents. (I am grateful for Michelle Obama’s book which first made me think about the cost they pay.)
Seven: And that’s all we’ve done so far. We have a few days, and I hope to hit multiple museums (the woman suffrage exhibit at the Library of Congress, and the African American History and Culture Museum are at the top of the list), but for now, we had to come back to the house and rest (a.k.a. check Instagram and watch Parks & Rec). Anyone want a cheese stick?