Privilege Blog

Clearly I Was Misinformed About D.C.

I leave Washington D.C. today. It’s raining. The weather for our two days, however, has been very nice for early March. And the trip, wonderful.

There aren’t too many things I regret, in my career as a mother. But clearly I should have brought my children here. What was I thinking? If you have children, aged, let’s say, 8-18, learn from my mistake. Make plans now. I rarely insist, but in this case I must. And the cherry trees that line the lawns and ceremonial bodies of water should be blooming in a few weeks.

The city is not bad for grown ups either, especially those susceptible to imagination. More to follow. I hope you are all well.

45 Responses

  1. I think that is an excellent idea. I ‘cheated’ my children by not visiting D.C., but I will make sure the grandchildren have the opportunity. So much to see and do and learn there. Thanks for the reminder.
    Travel safely.

  2. I went to DC for the first time when I was 20, with a boyfriend who had a friend that went to GWU. I fell in love with the city and, at one point, wanted to live there, but the stars never quite aligned in the right way.

    I only got to return a couple times later, and never to the same level of satisfaction. During my “working-honeymoon” (I had a professional conference to go to at UMD that started 2 days after my wedding; we parlayed that into a few extra days on the eastern shore), C and I went into DC to Granville Moore’s and then met some friends of mine for drinks in Dupont Circle. While I was working, C spent time going to Ben’s Chili Bowl, the National Zoo, and taking notes at the “Altar of Lincoln” (he is a 19th century Americanist, and his dissertation was on the mythos of the American Civil War).

    He sent me pictures of pandas. Needless to say, I was quite jealous.

  3. I agree. A visit to Washington DC is a must. I remember walking all day long ( alone ) from one end of the National Mall to the other end. I think Washington DC is one of my favorite Cities in the US. I however have not seen the Cherry Blossoms. I am excited to see your photos. Safe travel.

  4. We did a family vacation in DC when I was five. My fourth grade Girl Scout did a (long) daytrip from the Main Line. I have returned twice for conferences as an adult. Everyone who can should see our nation’s capitol.

  5. The most exciting thing I did in my childhood was a 2 week long bus trip to DC with 40 other teenagers–we stayed there for a week at the National 4-H Center and did the tourist thing, met with our representative, etc. and also saw various sites on the way there and back (including NYC and Niagara Falls, Kellogg’s Plant in MI, St. Louis Arch, Indy 500, Gettysburg). We did a long weekend there with all our kids when they were in High School and Middle School and they were underwhelmed (because they’ve been everywhere…in my next life, I’m coming back as one of my kids because they get to do everything). Later that same year, I took #2 and #4 back for 9 days over spring break while DOTR and #3 went to Normandy and #1 went to the beach. We stayed right by the White House, used the metro like pros, got a White House tour thanks to our neighbor in the House of Reps, celebrated #4’s birthday at ESPN Zone and rubbed elbows with Tucker Carlson (sans bow tie), saw every museum possible, flew kites on the Mall….they were the perfect age (10th grade taking AP US History and 5th grade studying Civics). I saw soooo many people dragging babies in strollers or preschoolers and just thought….what a waste of time, effort and damage to your nerves! That said, my next trip will be with adults who want to go to art galleries and look at every.single.thing (like I do) and never want to eat at a restaurant where you have to carry your own tray. Who’s coming with me?

  6. I love Washington DC. My parents did take me there as a child and we will be taking my daughter when she comes of age. Not only for the beauty, but for the understanding of our nation and why things are the way they are in our country, the good, bad and the ugly.

  7. I couldn’t agree more, D.C. is educational, beautiful, and just plain fun. I have learned so much growing up from my trips there, and now am fortunate enough to be able to visit several times a month!

  8. The distict is a supremly and altogether wonderful sight be to held in the springtime. In the summer months it is unfortunatly rather unbecoming weather wise, what with the hot and muggy layer that settles over the Patomic River Valley. Glad to hear you enjoyed yourself despite the weather.

  9. Now you know why it is my all-time, numero uno favorite city in the US, one could spend years there and never see it all. I am so happy you enjoyed yourself! :)

    Sending you a smile,

  10. Absolutely agree- went a slew of times as a school girl and it was magical each and every time.

    PS- loved the High WASP “diet” post. MoMo and I are a big fan of “the liquid diet” when we’ve indulged a bit too much- hello lots of tea and broth-based soup- but only until things have been taken care of and then it’s back to regular biz per usual.



  11. D.C. is probably Beloved’s favorite city in the country. We’ve taken our younger children several times – the two youngest also went on school field trips there in the 8th grade. Beloved still wants to take Oldest Son and Darling Daughter, too, one day. We talked about it this year, but I just don’t think we’re going to be able to afford it.

  12. I knew you’d love it here! I don’t want to live any where else. Well, except maybe San Francisco:)

  13. down here in florida ….
    in elementary school they have an annual trip to dc
    when you are in the 5th grade.
    all the schools are included in this program.
    i went when i was little and it was the most fun filled with history and happy memories.
    the trip is always scheduled right when the cherry blossoms are blooming.

    you can always bring them later.
    my daughter is 23 now, she went on the school program educational trip as well. she loved it.
    and today she evens considers dc as a home.

    it is a very cool place!

  14. Dear Lisa, I so agree and I’m Australian! I am a US Civil War buff but what only had a cursory understanding of the War of Independence. I am remedying that now. We are going to DC this year so my girls can absorb it all too. Lindaxxx

  15. I’m glad you had a nice time.

    I think there are a lot of people in our country who would understand it a little better if they visited and spent some time renewing their American history.

  16. YES! As a Canadian, I agree wholeheartedly. We took our children to DC when they were 8, 11 and 13. It was a fabulous week of exploration that they still talk about today (at 24, 27, 29).

  17. I couldn’t agree more! I grew up nearby and went on so many trips there as a child. Now live farther away and took my older children (8 and 10) for the first time last summer. It was so much fun – immediately started planning a return trip.

  18. I currently live in DC, and I’m so glad you enjoyed yourself. It’s a great place to live and visit (The only city in the world I like better is New Orleans). I never expected to live here, but I’m pleased I do. I see the Washington Monument, the Capitol, and various memorials on my daily commute. That’s pretty darn cool.

  19. My parents took us on vacations every year and DC was one of them. My dad took my oldest son and one of my nieces a few years back and I just took my younger son, when we tagged along with my parents, last August. It’s a fantastic city!

  20. My sister and I were taken to Washington by our mom when 11 and 13, respectively. It was a great trip! In addition to our enjoyment of the typical sights (I loved Mount Vernon, as I remember), I was also completely taken by all the different neighborhoods, ethnic restaurants, and funky shops. I think it was that trip that made me a city kid, and I still love going to Washington whenever I get the chance.

  21. I don’t have children yet, but I already can’t wait to take kids to everything in D.C. Not just the museums but the memorials as well.

  22. Yes, you are so right! There are so many things important to us Americans for all of us to see in Washington DC. Arlington is, perhaps, the most awe-inspiring place of all. Take lots of pics for us to see. xx’s

  23. Glad to hear you’re having a great time there. I can’t particularly relate to Washington, given my diff. national perspective, but that sense of wanting my kids to share my view of a new place, I’m surprised how strongly that persists even now. I know that’s not quite what you’re saying when you talk about wishing you’d brought yours there as children, but maybe it’s part of it.

  24. Like DocP, I first went to Washington as a Philadelphia-area Girl Scout in the fourth grade. We were only about three hours from D.C., so we did field trips every other year. As an eighth grader, I helped lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier…will never forget that experience. When we lived in Charlottesville, we went once a month or so, in all kinds of weather, and once to the White House when X received a presidential award for some defense-related work. (The floors in the Eisenhower building, where the reception was held, are polished shale with ammonites embedded in them. Really beautiful.)

    The last time I was there was this past August, between trains. Sadly, it was too hot to venture very far on the Mall, but I remember sitting on a bench in the shade and watching tourists and government workers on the lawn in front of the Capitol building and thinking to myself, this city is ours. All of ours. And you’re right. Every child should be taken there at least once to claim their cultural patrimony.

  25. My children loved DC! And I loved it too – both as a someone who loves history and as someone who walked off 4 pounds in 5 days.

  26. oh, I’m so glad you enjoyed your trip. It is, indeed, a wonderful town and I can’t imagine anyone being bored here.

  27. I never had the opportunity to visit DC until I had children of my own. But we have took them there. It was wonderful.

  28. I lived in Northern Virginia, mere minutes from D.C., for nearly ten years. I miss it. It’s full of so much history and so many cultural opportunities. And when the cherry blossoms bloom it is absolute heaven. I agree with you. Go now!

  29. I remember when people were cautioned to stay away from DC, that it was the homicide capital of the world [world!], unsafe for walking or touring or shopping, just a cesspool of crime and unsavory characters, a revolving door of temporary residents with no stable culture or citizenry. Could that be what you’re talking about, the fear factor? There’s no way to tell someone in advance about the psychic transformation that occurs as he/she realizes his feet are standing in the same place as those of, say, George Washington, MLK, et al. Quite gripping, I found. It’s exciting that you were so enchanted, cannot wait for your follow up post.

  30. It is a shame that your fan, ADG, was in PA and didn’t come back to DC until the day you left. He certainly would have stood you ladies to a drink and some fine local lore. : )

  31. One of the obvious advantages to living in Virginia or Maryland is the close proximity to DC. When my daughter was little and my husband had to work the whole weekend, we would take the train to DC, and explore a different museum or places like Georgetown, Old Towne Alexandria, etc. The Metro made it very easy for a woman by herself with a small child to get around and we always felt safe. You could spend a week in the Smithsonian, a day wandering through Arlington, (the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider should be seen by everyone) a day in Georgetown, or at the Zoo. We never tired of the National Cathedral, the Library of Congress & the cherry blossoms. Driving around DC on a warm spring evening is breath-taking.

  32. Deb u naunt – Thank you. And have fun with the grandkids:).

    irisira – It sounds like you two have a rich history with the city. The stars may still align, of course.

    Lord Fernandez – I will try not to disappoint with photos:).

    DocP – I really had no idea how great it is.

    Mom on the Run – Your last trip with #2 and #4 sounds pretty great. But I hear you on the carrying of trays for eating. I do loathe a food court, and kids often require them:).

  33. Jennifer – I found I understood why they call them the “Framers.” There is such a framework.

    Kalyn – Oh I’m jealous!

    Raulston – I can imagine summer is daunting, all that walking, all that heat.

    TPP – I didn’t know! Why am I not surprised?:)

    QBS – Yeah, I’m on a hot liquid phase right now, after the trip and eating like teenaged boys:).

  34. Jan – Well, maybe they will take you. I mean, at some point that starts to happen, right?

    miss mindless – :).

    renee finberg – How wonderful that’s a shared experience for children in the state.

    Linda – Have a wonderful time! I would think one wouldn’t have to be American to enjoy it, just like I love to see the Tower of London and am not British. It’s just such a palpable historic environment.

    GingerR – I agree. On all sides. On all sides.

  35. Lorrie – Oh how wonderful! That’s just what I was thinking would have been perfect ages. How wonderful to still discuss it.

    Elizabeth – I am even thinking of trying to get my 20 and 23-year old to come with me next time:).

    Emmaleigh504 – So darn cool. I am happy to think of you making your way through the city.

    Preppy 101 – Hooray for grandchildren!

    Pamela D. Hart – Oh, you know, I’d love to bring my dad too. Now that you mention it.

  36. Rubiatonta – I wish we had made it to Mount Vernon, but had to spend a LONG time at the Air and Space Museum:). I also wish we’d make it to more neighborhoods. Next time.

    Kalee – The memorials were amazing.

    Marsha – I have a few photos:).

    materfamilias – I actually think you’d be fascinated. The philosophy of America’s founders is right out there for everyone to see. The intellectual history alone is so interesting.

  37. Staircase Witch – Wow. Wow, wow, wow.

    Stephanie – Ha! I went the other direction, what with teen boys directing food options:).

    Alex in DC – Yes. And thank you SO MUCH for your tips. I followed as many as I could.

    Marianne – Oh I agree! Boredom seems like it would be almost impossible.

    Susan – :).

    Tara – Next time I hope to see the cherry blossoms. I can tell they would be just gorgeous.

  38. Flo – I’m working on the post. It’s hard, you know? So much to say. I was completely intoxicated by the city. Sitting on the spot where MLK gave his I Have A Dream speech. Wow.

    Miss Janey – Miss Janey is a wise woman:).

    Berenmind – I would love to see ADG in his home haunt:).

    sara – What a wonderful way to deal with those time of solo parenting. Making it not a chore at all.

    ADG – Dude, I was waiting for an invite!

  39. I was born in Washington DC, and some years ago I took my two younger children — born in Oxford, England, to the city — I wrote a post about going to the CIA by accident. It was just a wee bit traumatic.

    But even without the CIA incident I was trying to show my British children something of their American heritage. We went to the Air and Space Museum and rode a tour bus that stopped at all the sites. They were indulgent while I was moved at the Vietnam memorial, and then we pressed on to the Jefferson Memorial, the Roosevelt Memorial, Arlington Cemetary…

    I was inspired. My children remember being very, very hot and very, very bored.

    I might have to start over with my grandchildren. My first is a trio national: American, British, Argentinian. Maybe he’ll like the carousel on the Mall outside the old Smithsonian.

  40. Well, I’m in the minority here, but as a resident of D.C. I always tell folks not to bring children under 13. 12 and below very seldom ‘get it’. They are usually bored with the Smithsonian, the Capital, and all the memorials. I see a huge difference in attitude and aptitude in older children.

    Also, as a “Mount Vernon Friends” I also think children under 12 are too young to visit George Washington’s home. My experience is that younger children are easily bored. Of course this isn’t the case with every single child, but this is just what I see on a day-to-day basis. Everyone knows there child’s limitations.

    Next time you come to town let me know. My son-in-law has one of the top Italian restaurants in Washington D.C. I’d love to treat you.

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