The Fourth Grade had a field trip to DC yesterday.
Over our knitting a few weeks back, my friend Bonnie & I decided we wanted to go along. Where exactly in DC they were going we weren’t sure, but there was a security clearance involved and as there is a classmate who’s family has a few connections in the area, we thought it might be a fun field trip to chaperone. Also, there was no call for parent chaperones, which intrigued us.
We are those moms.
Bonnie is the mom friend who calls me to ask about the upcoming holiday party in our kids’ classroom and when I say I think the teacher has it under control, by the end of the call, Bonnie makes me realize that we should offer to help, we should just put it together ourselves and besides, I’m good at that. This is what I do. Which really is true you know.
So, our kids were going on a potential kick-ass field trip without us? No way, we were so going along.
There may have been wine involved when this conversation took place.
There was a point Tuesday, the day before, in which I thought this wasn’t actually going to happen. Bonnie threw her back out again and wasn’t sure she could do it. I have a million different things going on and really didn’t have a day to devote to a road trip. But, Tuesday late afternoon, we decided we were game.
The kids were leaving at 6:15, A.M. On the schedule given us, there was a scheduled White House tour (hence the security clearance) at 11 that parents weren’t invited on (because we didn’t have it), but, if we wanted to meet up for lunch and then do the Monuments on the Mall with the kids, we were welcome. Also, there wasn’t room on the bus for any parents, we were going to have to drive ourselves, but that was my plan anyway. I never ride the bus on field trips. I love that time in the car for myself and I’ve learned that roadtripping on these things with a mom friend is a darn good time. So, Bonnie & I decided we’d meet the kids for lunch and the afternoon, leaving a few hours after the bus.
We were exchanging text messages with staff members on the bus via Bonnie’s phone, keeping up with where they were. There was a schedule change and their White House tour got bumped, so they were going to lunch early, they’d meet up with us after their tour. Which was great, because it’d give us time to find a parking space and fart around on our own.
I have never, ever driven in Washington, D.C. and not gotten lost and circled the monuments in an seemingly endless loop. I also have a problem with always ending up at the Pentagon. (I think it might be the magnetic north of my internal compass.) It doesn’t matter where I set out to go, I end up at the Pentagon and circling the monuments. Always.
Our plan? Drive past the Pentagon, head straight to the monuments and find a parking space.
A free one, on the street.
Bonnie came prepared with a map.
A real DC street map.
We found a parking space, a three hour parking space, on Constitution Ave, NW, which was exactly the time frame we needed, on the street. Free.
Across the street on the driver’s side was the Washington Monument.
And directly across from that was the The Ellipse, the Presidental Park and the White House itself.
We ended up with time to kill, so we sat in the park. We had no where to be, nothing to do and so we just sat. And chatted. And people watched.
There was a group of men playing a soccer game that we watched, older men schooling some middle aged ones, with some fancy footwork. There were some good tourists to be seen as well, but somehow the soccer was the entertainment.
I really hate that I’m a soccer mom. But I am.
We knew the kids were touring the White House and it seemed to be going long. As we sat in the park, we watched men appear on the roof of the WH and walk around, surveying the scene. All but one were in dark suits, one was in a white shirt. We saw black SUV’s pulling up in front of the entrance, we saw people moving around. We kept thinking we saw our kids, so eventually we left our bench and walked across the park.
Right after we took this picture, security came down and started clearing everyone on that side of the park. Clearly, someone was either coming or going from the WH and the fact that our kids were inside was really sort of exciting.
So we sort of dawdled on our way back from the front line. When the very handsome and nice gentleman on the bike there came up to us, I told him our kids where in there and that’s why we were taking our time moving on and for a second, I could tell, he was considering following up to see where they were for us.
Eventually, they finished their tour and we met them up at the Lincoln Memorial. There were protesters at the WH that morning, and that’s what got their tour bumped to a later time.
They were given matching hats to wear on the field trip. I had no doubt that when we caught up with the kids, mine would not be wearing hers because well, it’s my kid. If everyone else is doing it, she’s not going to do it.
She did not disappoint.
I assured her it was way better than the neon t-shirts we’d seen other groups in. When she saw them, she agreed.
See what I mean about the neon t-shirts?
The Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool is currently under construction, hence the concrete instead of water in the pond.
While we standing at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial we saw a WH helicopter fly overhead.
That’s Edie and her classmate Shaniah, a little girl I’ve gotten to know this year on my weekly volunteer gig in their classroom at the MLK Monument. As I looked through my photos, trying to choose one to post, I realized that two little girls of different skin colors standing together at the feet of a man who devoted his life to making that happen, well, that was it.
On the drive home, we stopped for slurpees.
We’d have gotten Corn Nuts, but they had no BBQ and everyone knows, you only eat the BBQ Corn Nuts.
We felt like we had played hooky yesterday and we loved it. The highlight of the day was definitely sitting in the park, people watching, with absolutely no where to be, no one to keep up with, just sitting somewhere that was out of our usual path.
And for the first time ever, I didn’t circle the monuments. I didn’t get lost. Heading straight for the Pentagon is the way to go. As is bringing Bonnie along.