Monday, June 22, 2009

Sightseeing in Washington D.C.

Last Monday, when I should have been posting a new blog column here, I was walking around the Mall in Washington D.C. with my son and his friend. We’d gone to Baltimore to visit that friend and his family for a few days, and we’d decided to sneak in a super-quick jaunt to D.C., too.

In six hours, we managed to meet up with my high-school friend Shari, wander around Capitol Hill, visit the Supreme Court Building, marvel at the ornate beauty of the Library of Congress’s Jefferson Building atrium and reading room, stroll through the National Art Gallery’s Sculpture Garden, and dash through two of the 19 Smithsonian museums – the Air and Space Museum and the Museum of Natural History.

It was a fast and furious spin through some of the most remarkable buildings in our country that represent so much of what makes up the U.S.A. – our laws, our government, our history, our literature, our science and technology, our creativity, and our land’s natural wonders. I didn’t plan it that way – but when I sat down and thought about what we’d seen, I realized we’d somehow encapsulated a stunning sampling of America’s greatness in a single day’s adventure.

My son’s only frustration was that I kept hurrying him through the museums – he would have happily read every plaque and studied every exhibit… and we’d still be in the first room of the first museum if I’d let him. So I’ve promised him that in a few years we’ll go back and spend an entire week in Washington D.C., hitting more monuments and museums. At the top of his “next time” list? The National Spy Museum.

I’m so grateful my son has inherited my love of travel. And the older he gets, the easier it is. I have to pack fewer toys to keep him occupied, for example. And, of course, he’s unlikely now to grab random food and taste it while we’re at someone else’s house. He knows to read labels. He knows what foods to shy away from. He even reminded me to use Wet Wipes to wipe down his arm rest, tray table, and seat belt on the airplane before he touched anything (and on, where they give everyone peanuts whether they ask for them or not, that’s important!). At 10, my son’s becoming an equal participant in his own safety, and that’s a wonderful thing.

It makes me feel like all the years of teaching, protecting, and warning him are beginning to pay off, preparing him for the years ahead when I’ll have to let go and rely on his own sense of self-preservation to keep him safe. As comforting as that is, however, I’m in no hurry for those years to get here. I have to admit, after our fast-paced day in D.C., the mother in me still loved it when he curled up on my lap – all 90 pounds of him – and fell asleep on the Metro ride back to Baltimore.

It’s nice to know that he still needs me.

1 comment:

Shari said...

Beautiful post. It was wonderful seeing you!