Posts Tagged ‘Washington’
Crazy. Insane. Out of your mind. Death wish. Masochist.
Those were just a few of the things that people said to me when I told them I was taking all five of my kids (ages 15, 10, 7, 6 and 2) to Washington, D.C. for the weekend… by myself.
My wife had a long-planned weekend away with a friend. I was originally going to just be at home with them, but then I had a work related presentation and speech in D.C., so the only choice was to take the kids with me.
On Thursday we loaded up and drove to Phoenix Sky Harbor. We got to the airport in what seemed like years before the flight (I’m the kind of traveler that gets to the airport as late as possible) but it was actually only an hour and 15 minutes. And guess what? It takes a while to check four bags and get five kids through security. So, we ended up not having all that much time before we boarded.
It was a bit of a mob scene getting on board. A woman had inadvertently sat in one of the seats that was ours and my 7 yr-old daughter says in her normal voice (read: loud) “Dad, she’s in my seat!” You know how people get when they are in the wrong seat on a plane, because they really don’t think they are in the wrong seat and so there is always a bit of hubris first, and then they dramatically take out their boarding pass and the expression goes from irritation to embarrassment. I kept trying to tell her that it was not a big deal, but that was belied by my daughter’s gestures of “what is she doing in my seat” with the “hmphs” and the overly dramatic shrugs, etc. If you know my 7 yr-old, you KNOW what I’m talking about. Needless to say, it took that woman about 5 minutes to realize she was VERY happy to have moved to the right seat.
The only thing eventful for the first leg of our trip was that when we hit some pretty good turbulence a couple hours into it, my 7 yr-old and 6 yr-old (it was her 6th birthday that day) girls started laughing and cheering, thinking that it was an amusement ride. The lady across to aisle from me was obviously not a good flyer and she was gripping her seat handles, white knuckled and looking at the girls like they were insane.
One point on the layover in Atlanta: it drives me crazy to drop $8 for a kids meal of chicken strips only to have three of the kids take two bites of chicken, eat three fries, and then while I’m distracted with the 2 yr-old, go throw the rest away. Argh!
Thirty minutes out of D.C. my 2 yr-old decided that the last thing he wanted was to be seatbelted in, and he screamed, non-stop, for the duration of the flight. Talk about humiliating. I kept thinking about that old Bill Cosby bit about Jeffry, the little boy who was a terror on a flight and then right at the end, falls asleep and then as people are getting off the plane they gleefully wake him up “Goodbye Jeffry!”
All this, and we are just arriving in D.C.!
Friday, because of the kids being wired after getting to the hotel and the time change, they didn’t get up until after 11:00, which was fine, because I had a presentation that morning. We ate lunch at the hotel and then headed to Capitol Hill where the kids got a Capitol tour from Congressman Shadegg’s office, followed by a Dome tour – also arranged by the Congressman. I worked on Capitol Hill for 14 years and, inexplicably, that was the first time I’d ever done a Dome tour. It was fantastic and the kids loved it.
Friday evening I had a brief speech to give to more than 2,000 people, which actually went a little better than I had expected. I spoke right before Laura Ingraham and she says to me, “Don’t steal my thunder.” Yeah, like that could happen. She was very gracious before and after, and by the time she had finished the first line of her speech, no one even remembered that there was someone speaking before her. She gave a tour de force and had the crowd on their feet repeatedly.
Saturday was another late start for the kids – although we got down to the hotel restaurant before 11:30, so we were able to order breakfast.
We drove to Union Station to park the rental car and then took the metro to the National Archives. We timed it just right, because as we were leaving the rotunda where the founding documents are displayed, the line was out the door. Seeing the actual documents that launched this great nation was literally a spiritual experience for me. And to share that with my children, helping them understand what it meant and why it was special, only made it better. Of course, we did also have a conversation about whether there really was an invisible map on the back of the Declaration, thanks to the movie “National Treasure.”
We then went to the Natural History Museum and the Air and Space Museum. I have to believe that the “Night at the Museum” movies as increased the number of visitors at those museums and maybe all museums. My kids would see a display and start talking about the movie(s) and start quoting lines. It made it a more memorable experience for them.
We ate dinner at Union Station and then drove to Lincoln Memorial. We first went to the Vietnam Memorial, found the list of Noble’s who are on the wall (there are nine of them) and went and found the inscription of a Noble who was killed the day after I was born. It is a sobering experience to see all the names of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
The Lincoln Memorial was an exceptional experience. The kids immediately felt the importance of it, and were very subdued as we entered the temple that honors the man who held the country together. There really is no better way to talk about the importance of a man, than in the shrine that honors him.
One thing is for sure – this won’t be the last time all the kids go to D.C. My wife will make sure of that.