After 2 weeks of being blog-missing (sorry, I just finished Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies series and his vocab is still on the brain), I’m back. I’m planning on covering my jam-packed activities into 3 posts so as not to bore you all at once. Choosing instead to drag out the boredom over 3 days. Kidding. I won’t go into any great detail about the trip, but rather give you some of my impressions. I do want you to come back after all.
I was fortunate enough to spend 4 days with 2 buses full of 11 to 14 year olds (grades 6 through 8) as a parent chaperone on a school trip to Washington, D.C. Two of those days were mainly travel days; the trip taking approximately 9 hours each way. I love D.C. This was my 4th visit and every time I go I see something different and learn something new. We had a great time touring sites, memorials, museums, food courts, and gift shops (essential if you’re a kid).
Although I didn’t have a moment to write (motion sickness while reading or writing is a drag), I did try to observe and absorb the kids’ reactions, emotions, and relationships with each other. In the process I reconnected with my tween/teen self. We had an awesome tour guide, a former teacher who really knew how to connect with young people through humor and by making history come alive with interesting stories, some of them personal.
As a parent and chaperone I danced the “when-do-I-step-in-and-when-do-I-back-off” dance with my two daughters. It can be tricky sometimes but I think I succeeded in not embarrassing the girls too much *wink*. Actually, I think they were glad that I came (though I don't think they'd want to admit that out loud).
Some of the highlights were:
1. Visiting the World War II Memorial at night – absolutely beautiful.
2. My 11-year-old is having knee issues and had to wear a brace. As a result, Arlington Cemetary in the drizzly rain was challenging for her. She and I brought up the far rear of the school group but she was determined to keep going. We made it just in time to see the changing of the guards at the tomb of the unknown soldier.
3. Daniel’s Story exhibit at the Holocaust Museum – incredible and such a well done exhibit for children about a horrific time in history.
4. Newseum 9/11 Exhibit – This was the last place we visited on our trip before heading home. After a fun 4D film on the history of investigative reporting, we had about a half hour before we had to be back on the bus. I went to the 9/11 exhibit and wasn’t prepared for the powerful emotional reaction I had while looking at a piece of one of the towers and another piece of one of the planes from Flight 93. My eyes filled up, tears trickled down my cheeks, until I finally had to leave and walk to a quiet area (Tim Russett’s office display) and cry into my tissues. Amazing how that day flooded back in a few instants.
Another highlight of the trip for me was leaving behind my home responsibilities: no cooking, cleaning, laundry, driving, etc. Just hanging out with the kids and other parents and getting to know them. Most of the parents sat in the back of the bus. We chatted, joked around, shared snacks and stories – even broke into a chorus of “Dream On” (complete with Steve Tyler’s high notes) while the Miracle credits were rolling. We may have been a little tired at that point. It didn’t take long before we had our own little repertoire of inside jokes, almost like kids ourselves.
Have you ever been to Washington, D.C.? What is your favorite place to visit there? If you haven't been, what would you like to see?