Ever since President’s Day this year, Luke has been fascinated with the presidents, particularly George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. When he learned that we were going to be visiting my sister who lives right outside of Washington, DC, he told me he had an idea for a new experience. He wanted to go to the Lincoln Memorial. How could I say no? After all, there are not too many kids who actually ask to visit a memorial. From what I’ve noticed on our frequent trips to the country’s capital, it seems that most children are taken against their will and dragged down the National Mall by well-intentioned parents. I smiled smugly as I realized that my children are just so cultured, so curious, so mature… I would never have to drag them around monuments and memorials. After all, they were practically begging me to take them.
When we stepped out of the Metro yesterday morning, we were standing right on the National Mall, in between the Capitol building and the Washington Monument. It is a glorious sight, something every American really should see in their lifetime. As I admired the view, Luke asked, “Where’s the Lincoln Memorial?” I could see the memorial from where we were standing and pointed it out to my oh-so-cultured children. “That far?” they practically whined in unison. We hadn’t even begun our trek, so I just pretended I didn’t hear them and started walking.
The kids enjoyed walking from the Metro to the Washington Monument. I love exploring a new place with my children because it is never about the big stuff with them. As any parent can tell you, a walk with a child is all about the details. It is the sound the sand-colored gravel makes as they shuffle their feet. It is about the pigeons they chase until they fly away all at once. It is about jumping from white stripe to white stripe in the crosswalks. And, oh yes, there is a very tall monument in front of us, too.
We spent a few minutes at the Washington Monument. Unfortunately, the monument has been closed since the earthquake in August 2011 that damaged it. The kids had fun looking at all the blocks of stone and trying to see which ones appeared cracked.
We had a small snack and then moved on to the World War II memorial. Like most young boys, Luke is intrigued by the army, so the images of soldiers at war were right up his alley. Leah enjoyed finding a picture of a dog and a parade among the images in the memorial.
By the time we left that memorial, the kids were tired. Their little legs had already walked about half a mile and we still had another half mile to go. There were complaints of “I can’t walk any more!” while they hunched their shoulders and dragged their feet interspersed with full sprints and gleeful laughter as they chased each other in spontaneous games of tag.
Finally, we reached the Lincoln Memorial. They collapsed on the grass, drama queen style, pretending they were dead from all that walking. Mental note: I will not be so smug the next time I see parents dragging a child through a monument or museum. I am now part of their club.
After a short rest, Luke and Leah practically ran up the steps of the memorial. When we got inside, they were truly impressed by the magnitude of the room. When we saw the statue of Lincoln, Luke was slightly underwhelmed. He had expected the statue to reach the ceiling. I was a little disappointed in his reaction, but I remembered once again that our experiences never seem to be about the big things.
We sat on the steps of the memorial, ate the apples I packed, and headed back in the direction we came. The kids whined as we walked toward the Washington Monument, but we took a detour through the Korean War Memorial and quite a few breaks. My favorite moment of our walk was when Leah picked a dandelion gone to seed and held it up. She is the most generous child I know, even sharing precious wishes. She told me to blow on it and make a wish. A few seeds floated away. She then held it up to Luke and asked him to do the same. There were just a few seeds left when she held it to her face and said, “I wish for fairy wings!”
We had seen four of the most important monuments and memorials in Washington, D.C., but I am pretty sure my children will tell you the best part of the day was riding the carousel. As I watched them go around and around, I felt smug once again. Sure, I wound up dragging my children across the National Mall, but as they waved and blew kisses to me from the carousel, I felt like the luckiest mom in the whole city.
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