I’m changing things up a little with this post. I haven’t had a decent night sleep since December 11th when my husband Mike herniated a disc and with his recent surgery it’s been 14 days of even less sleep. So, I am going to share a story that my friends have been telling me I need to write for years. I like to have peace about what God wants me to write about and due to lack of sleep I just don’t have that right now. So today something more lighthearted.
When my children were little, my husband Mike traveled quite a bit for work. I was a stay at home mom at the time and he was always bugging the kids and I to go with him. It was not only too expensive, but I have a bit of an issue with flying. It messes with my equilibrium and the airplane literally does tumblesaults through the air (but that is a story for another time). He was thrilled when he had a conference scheduled in Crystal City, Virginia because it was driving distance from our house. It’s close to DC so he assured me that there would be lots for me and the kids to do and he even called the hotel to make sure. The lady at the hotel told him that there was plenty to do even for a boy who just turned 3 and a little girl who was 19 months old.
So, I packed us all up and we went with him. It was a really fancy hotel…full of nothing but businessmen. There was not one other family (at least not any that I saw) in that hotel and those ladies just ate my kids up. I think they told my husband there was something for the kids to do just so they would have kids to play with.
The conference was at the end of August. It was the hottest week of the summer. The kind that they say to keep the elderly and young inside. There was absolutely nothing for me and the kids to do. My husband was in the conference all day and afterwards would eat dinner with us, but after that he spent the entire rest of the night on the computer trying to keep up with tasks at the office. So, it was just me and the kids most of the time. There is only so much running through hallways and riding elevators that you can do in a WEEK. I was losing my mind. The ladies at the front desk did arrange for the shuttle bus from the hotel to take us to a mall. But really it was just a building with businesses in it with some shops and a little food court. I had a double stroller and this mall had steps so lets just say it wasn’t very kid friendly. There was another day that the hotel shuttle took us to a little “park” (it was in the middle of the business district) that had a little fountain in the center. I would swear that the water was boiling and not an actual fountain since it was so hot. We were there for a total of 15 minutes until we couldn’t take it anymore.
By the fourth day of absolutely nothing to do, the ladies at the front desk convinced me to go to the Children’s Museum in DC. They told me I would just need to take the metro to DC, and the museum was not far from the station. They said I wouldn’t even need to take my stroller because it was so close. I was instructed to ask a policeman where the museum was located when I got off the train. Now, I had never in my life been on the metro. I really had no idea what I was doing…and I had a 3-year-old and a 19 month old. But I was so desperate I would do anything to keep these kids occupied. I was told by the ladies that the museum had a nice cafeteria and plenty to do to keep us busy all day. Sounded like heaven, and I was told it should only take about 40 minutes to get there including hotel shuttle to metro station, the ride to DC, and then the short walk to the museum. So it was a go.
The next day the kids and I got up, had a little granola bar for breakfast, and headed out the door at 9am. We got on the hotel shuttle and we were on our way. We got to the metro station and I very carefully plotted our route. To get to the train, we had to go down a very long escalator. I scooped up McKensie and instructed Kyle (Kai) to hold onto my shorts pocket so that I could hold the railing to keep my balance. As I held McKensie, to my surprise, I felt a naked little butt. Apparently she took her pull-up off before we left the hotel and I didn’t realize it (she was trying to be like her big brother and use the potty). I was mortified because she had a cute little denim dress on that she very proudly was lifting up and down as I was trying to get the two of them through the hotel lobby…in front of many businessmen I might add (sigh). I’m sure they thought I was a stellar parent.
We made it to the train and eventually arrived at our destination. We walked outside the station and I looked for a policeman to ask for directions to the museum. Unfortunately, there weren’t any in sight. I started to walk down the street, but it was so busy with construction and people that I decided to go back in the train station and ask someone in there. By this time, both kids were tired of walking and wanted to be held. Now, I need to explain that although they are both toothpick thin now, they were not back then. They were quite chunky and a little bit of a handful for my 5′ 105 pound self. We made it back into the station where there were many little shops and I went in one by one asking if they new where the Children’s Museum was located. Not one person could tell me. Now the ladies at the hotel said it was close to the station. How come no one could give me directions?
I decided to go back outside and try to find it. I asked someone that looked friendly (the ladies freaked me out a little by being very specific about asking a policeman). They gave me some directions which I followed to no avail. So, I asked someone else…followed their directions to no avail. This went on…and on…and on. It was 98 degrees outside. There was no shade. And I had two little ones that were tired of walking. I was carrying them both at the same time on and off during this little adventure. I was hot, sweaty, and hungry. I couldn’t wait to get to that museum to cool off and get something to eat.
We walked, and walked, and walked until finally we saw…a policeman! I had flashbacks to all of the school assemblies when I was a little girl where a policeman would come and talk to us about how important it was to listen to them and how they were here to help us. We were given little booklets with the title “Officer Friendly” on the front. I’m pretty sure I heard angels sing when I saw him. At the time, I had a kid on each hip. He looked at me and asked, “Are you going to the Children’s Museum?” He knew! I replied, “Yes I am.” And he said…”I don’t think you’re going to make it.” What!? So much for Officer Friendly. I asked him where it was and he pointed to a hill and at the very top was the museum. Well, you don’t tell me that I can’t do something. I thanked him (some help he was) and headed toward the hill. Now I could go up the street and around a corner to get there, or I could take a shortcut through some really tall grass. I took the shortcut and the whole time I was literally chanting in my head, “I think I can…I think I can.” Relief was coming…the museum was in sight.
We got to the entrance. It was basically a big, old stone house that had been converted into a museum. We walked through the front door waiting to be greeted with a cool breeze of air conditioning. Instead we got…stifling hot air. The air conditioner was broken. Are you kidding me?? We paid for our tickets and I asked where the cafeteria was located. It was right down the hall. We hurried along, got to the entrance and found…vending machines. There was no cafeteria. I only had a few coins, but I was so hungry I bought us some peanuts and a 7-Up to share. I figured once we scarfed those down I could get more change for more food. You see it was 2 o’clock. The 40 minute trip took us 5 HOURS. We were starving! We finished our snack and started to go back out front to get more change when we were greeted with screaming people running down the hall. What were they screaming you ask? “He’s got a gun!” Yep, the museum was robbed. So much for getting change. The gunman took ALL of the money. Luckily he took the money and ran so we were safe. In the back of my mind though, all I could think about was I had no idea how I got to this museum and I had no idea how to get back to the train station and there was some maniac running around with a gun. So glad we came on this trip with my husband. Not!
The museum closed at 5 o’clock so we ventured off to see what we could in our abbreviated time. It was a really cool museum and the kids loved it. They loved it so much that they didn’t want to leave. It was just about closing time and the last exhibit we went to was a little tunnel with flags that the kids could run through. They got in there and they wouldn’t come out. They were giggling and running through there like a pack of wild animals. It got to the point that I needed to go in to get them. Now, I am short, but not as short as a child, and not realizing how low the ceiling of the tunnel was I cracked my head so hard I saw stars. Great! I needed to get the kids out of there, find my way back to the metro station, and avoid some gun wielding crazy man…all with a possible concussion.
I finally retrieved my kids and ventured to the exit of the museum. I was chatting with one of the workers there and she heard about some of my day and took pity on me and hailed a cab for us. We got in the cab and he literally drove down the street to the metro station. We were close…it’s just that no one I asked for directions knew that (sigh). Now I don’t know if you’ve ever been at the metro in DC at rush hour, but it was beyond crowded. I had each kid by the hand as we waited for our train. The trains were rushing by us so fast that it was blowing us around…I was literally afraid one of the kids would blow away! Finally our train arrived. It was so crowded that there weren’t any seats available..standing room only. A man took pity on us and offered his seat. I gratefully took it and put one kid on each knee. I was asking if they were tired because I certainly was and they both chimed in “no we aren’t tired.” I noticed I was getting some looks, but I figured it was because I had two small children on the train in the middle of rush hour. Who in their right mind would do that? But when the train went underground and I caught my reflection in the window I was quite startled. You see, in the morning I knew it was going to be a really hot day so when I styled my hair I made sure I used lots of hairspray to keep it in place. After sweating for 5 hours walking through the hot streets of DC, carrying two hefty kids, and then spending the remaining 3 hours in a hot museum…plus the extreme wind from the trains…I literally looked like I had some kind of freakish mohawk. My hair was standing on end from all the wind and hairspray. The perfect end to my less than perfect day. I looked like a crazy woman.
I have to say…it was one of the most memorable weeks of my life. I can honestly say that I have not been back to DC since. When the kids were older and had field trips there, I made Mike go (smile). And he went….because he loves me and he loves our kids…and love matters (smile).
BTW: I had extra pull-ups with me so my little one didn’t need to go through the whole day with a naked butt (smile).