Keeping Score

by cindy

Over the Christmas holidays, Dear Dave and I decided to take the two older grandchildren on a trip to Washington, D.C.  Two nights and two days in that amazing city. A city filled with museums. And, uh, other things. And how did this adventure go, you may wonder? Well, let’s view it as a game—a competition between intent and reality, with YAY! for achieving the intent and OOPS! for screwing it up. I’m sure you can’t guess how this’ll turn out, right?

It was with great enthusiasm that the Rooster requested to see the White House “while President Obama still lived there.” Unfortunately, the tickets I sought from my duly-elected Representative never quite materialized.

YAY! 0,  OOPS! 1

We decided not to drive into D.C. given that we are cowards that way. Instead, we parked in Baltimore and took the MARC train, a two-level commuter train that runs between Baltimore and D.C. The Peanut was particularly thrilled to ride on the top level. Even though it was dark. And, high or low, we couldn’t see a thing. Still, we were on the top deck. Also, due to planning errors, dinner was a couple of bags of Cheetos.

YAY! 1,  OOPS! 1

It was rather late by the time we arrived at our hotel. It hadn’t helped that our cab driver got us all lost. Although it was too close to bedtime to use the pool, the kids and I went to check it out anyway. While we explored the “fitness” level, we made our way outside onto a small balcony from which we could see the gleaming dome of the Capitol Building.

The extremely well-traveled Peanut was thrilled. “This place is amazing! It’s is the most beautiful hotel I’ve ever seen!” (It was a Hampton.) And the Rooster was beside himself with joy. “WASHINGTON DC! IT’S A DREAM COME TRUE!”

YAY! 2,  OOPS! 1

Naturally, when those exclamations registered in my brain, my first thought was We’d better go home right now. We have hit the highpoint and there are more than 36 hours to go. I am so fucked. As they say, however, hope springs eternal and we continued on our adventure early the next morning. They loved riding on the Metro.

YAY! 3,  OOPS! 1

Then we got off and discovered that it was very cold.

YAY! 3,  OOPS! 2

And it was very windy.

YAY! 3,  OOPS! 3

We couldn’t easily get close enough to the South Portico of the White House for a decent look, let alone a good photograph. Not even with the rather grim and disgruntled assistance of a parked Secret Service agent who ordered me “away from the car, Lady. Lady, away from the car. Lady, BACK AWAY FROM THE CAR!” Jeez. I was only trying to ask for directions.

YAY! 3,  OOPS! 4

At the museum entrances, there were huge, long lines. Obviously other grandparents had copied my idea. Also, there were security measures in place. So we had to wait. In the cold and the wind. And once inside, it was very crowded.

YAY! 3,  OOPS! 5

There was a lot of walking and a lot of waiting. Did I mention it was cold and windy?

YAY! 3,  OOPS! 6

The Rooster has long been fascinated with Abraham Lincoln. As Tour Leader, it took me a bit longer than it should have to change our course, but I did, eventually. We ditched the museums and cabbed our way to the Lincoln Memorial.

YAY! 4,  OOPS! 6

AND IT WAS AWESOME. We read the Gettysburg Address, engraved on one wall. We talked a little about the Civil War and the Battle of Gettysburg and about the Emancipation Proclamation. It was a lot to take in. Most important, I suppose, given their ages, I assured them (several times) that no, Abraham Lincoln was not really that big.

YAY! 5,  OOPS! 6

From there, we cabbed it back to the White House. I am nothing if not determined. We were going to see the White House and get a picture of it too. It was the North Portico, but it was still the White House, dammit.

YAY! 6,  OOPS! 6

Cold, tired, and a wee bit cranky, we then headed back for dinner and the much-anticipated swim in the hotel pool. The pool where a certain young person choked on some water, regurgitated some dinner, turned white as a sheet and decided to put the “sick” in homesick. A warm bath did nothing to help. Nor did the FaceTime with the parents. It was a long night.

YAY! 6,  OOPS! 7

The next morning brought bright sunshine and warmer weather, but we high-tailed it home anyway. This time, we used Amtrak but a train is a train and everyone was happy. Will we repeat this plan? Maybe. Maybe not. The jury is still out on that. When asked what they enjoyed the most about our adventures, and yes, I actually asked them that, their response was swift: the trains. All of them. But especially the double-decker. All Aboard!

YAY! 7,  OOPS! 7