BigDaddyFish is a bit of a tree hugger, and for the most part that is a good thing. One of his big dreams in life is to build a green house, meaning an environmentally friendly one, not one to grow plants in (though that wouldn't be a bad thing). Right now there is an exhibit down at the National Building Museum about the Green House. Little Man and BDF went down to see it in the fall, and he has been
nagging encouraging me to go down and see this exhibit before it closes, which we thought was June 3. We were laying around discussing our life plan this past Sunday at around 1pm, and made a spur of the moment decision that we had to get down to see the exhibit before it left, since we are busy this coming weekend. That was mistake number one - you don't make spur of the moment decisions when you have 4 kids under the age of 8 unless you also have a full-time live-in slave nanny to indulge your whims. We aren't rich, we don't have that, and we are also ridiculously stupid. What follows is an epic tale of really dumb parents with a bit of karma thrown in.
We managed to get everyone marshalled to get out of the house quickly, so by 2:30 we were on the Metro heading down. BDF carried Nemo in one of the Mei Tais and we carried our travel stroller to use once we got to the museum. The kids were in a good mood, we were in a good mood, and they had a blast on the metro.
As we were entering the Metro, two people came up and handed us their all-day passes that they were done with for that day. Nice karma thing number one - BDF and I didn't have to buy farecards for the bigs (little's still ride free).
So we're happy, and we have a great ride, and the museum is at the top of the Judiciary Square metro stop, so easy access. We walk in the doors and....
They are setting up for a wedding that's going to be after 5pm, when the museum closes. Okay, so no biggie, the kids just can't run through the open space of that magnificent building. We only need to see one exhibit, we can do this. The time is around 3:30.
We go directly to the exhibit, and I get to spend maybe 10 minutes looking at the basics of the Glidehouse, a full-scale model of a portion of this neat house that's actually a prefab house. The building materials themselves, the furniture, the appliances, and some of the decor are all made using environmentally friendly materials and technologies and designed to consume a lot less energy. The kids are getting antsy and clearly on a path of destruction, so we decide we need to get them a snack to help calm them down before I can look at the rest of the exhibit. There is a small snack cafe place thingy right there in the museum, so we go there, get some snacks, juice, and water, and sit down at a table to watch the wedding setup and eat. The snack place closes at 4; we begin our snack at 3:45 and finish up about 4:10.
Okay, we've still got time, we can do this. Mistake number 2: recognize when the kids are just too spun up to care and cut your losses. Instead, because we are morons and
stubborn persistent when we have something we want to accomplish, we decide to go into the gift shop to get each kid a small toy to play with while I finish looking at the exhibit. Clearly, mistake number 3: stepping foot in the gift shop was probably the dumbest thing we did - we may have well shot them all up with caffeine and sugar and red dye #4.
The kids immediately all develop a bad case of the gimmies, picking up everything they see and declaring that they love it and their sad little lives will be over and they will die in a heap on the floor if we do not immediately buy that
pencil sharpener in the shape of a dog William Shakespeare doll silicone pot holder Mona Lisa puzzle keychain NBM pen toy. BDF wanted to look at books, I wanted to look at some of the green home decor items (including these, inexplicably in the home decor section), and the kids grabbed every single thing they could get their grubby hands on. Mistake number what-are-we-on-now, 4? Yeah, 4: once they start to misbehave in the shop, leave. Just, leave. But again, we are what you call slow learners.
We bought each of the kids something cheap that happened to delight them: bracelets and a small metal slinky for Trout; the most sturdy and well-built parachute guy I've ever seen for Little Man; a small, flexible little car thingy for Sunny; and an eco-friendly stuffed robot for Nemo, as well as two board books for all of them: this one and this one. Silly us thought that Trout could read the books to the littles on the bench right outside the gift shop, with a clear view of the wedding setup, while I finished looking at the rest of the green house exhibit.
As soon as I was out of the shop, Little Man started grabbing at the bag in an attempt to get his parachute guy. Here we showed the first inkling of good judgment and immediately herded them all out of the museum to discuss things. It is approximately 4:40.
We ended up leaving. I was upset, BDF was upset, and the kids were just wailing that we were leaving and wouldn't give them their toys (which, incidently, they didn't get until yesterday, after appropriate hard labor served). It was hot, it was sunny, and we were grumpy. But us parents? We're dim, too.
So off we go, walking, heading toward the mall to see what's going on, to see if there's something else we can do since we're there in the city already and we don't want to waste the trip. We go maybe 6 or 7 blocks; Sunny is whining that she's hot and thirsty and hungry, the others are whining (except Nemo - he was perfect), we're just trudging along, and finally Sunny decides she's done, and she just stops. Right in the middle of the sidewalk. She won't move. I look around all over trying to find something to keep her going long enough for me to help her.
And then I see it. The yellow awning, the graceful brown letters. Au Bon Pain, about half a block away. She'll move for that, so we trudge over, cross the street (during which Sunny decides to stop again IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET! I just kind of herded her along with the stroller), and into the shop we go.
No air conditioning. It's hot, but not stifling, and at least they have healthy food, so we settle on grapes and water, mac and cheese for Sunny, and wraps for BDF and myself. Everyone gets fed and watered, even Nemo, who drinks half a bottle of water all by himself (and yes, I did nurse him several times that day, too). About 20 minutes and we're good to go, the kids are getting antsy again, so off we go to the mall, another 5 blocks or so.
We decide to check out the sculpture garden, but as we get near we realize the carousel is nearby, and think that would make a good treat and would make the kids happy enough to let us adults do something we want to do, so we head across the mall. Unfortunately that takes us down a gravel path, and the stroller is ridiculously hard to push across gravel, especially since now Sunny is in it while BDF carries Nemo again. We're kicking up a lot of dust, especially Little Man, who we have to "speak" to several times about shuffling his sandles in the gravel. The wind is starting to pick up a bit and it's getting a little overcast, but nothing alarming at this point. We probably have to stop 8 times due to Little Man and the shuffling in the dust, and we finally decide we will let Trout and Sunny go on the carousel but make Little Man just watch since he couldn't keep from kicking up the dust so bad (honestly, it was awful. We all got dust in our eyes and mouth and I know other people did, too). We arrive at the carousel and watch the people currently riding it for a second, and then go to buy tickets. Wanna guess what happens next?
The ticket booth is closed. The ride we are watching is the last ride of the day. While we are standing there dejectedly, a couple of other families come up, large groups with lots of kids, and we're all standing around disappointed, when the man comes out of the little booth, and one of the other dads walks up with a wad of cash and tries to buy another ride. The ticket booth guy decides to let us all ride, and opens up the exit to let us on. Karma thing number 2: he won't take any money. So we relent and let Little Man ride.
While we are on the ride we can see off behind the Washington Monument it is getting real dark. Black sky, and the wind is picking up more. The ride ends, we all thank the man profusely, he hands out stickers (! after a free ride?!), and BDF and I start reviewing our options. We were going to walk over to Chinatown to eat, but it's getting real bad, the wind itself is kicking up as much dust as Little Man did, and it's starting to sprinkle a bit, so we head to the Smithsonian metro stop, along with about 4000 other people from the area who are also looking for cover.
It was weird, because they had all these tents set up and signs for the Folklife Festival, and that's strange to me because the Folklife Festival isn't until around July 4th and it seems a bit early, but whatever. We saw lightning in the distance and wanted to get away from that big open space with all these
lighting magnets tents around, so we scurried to the metro, finally wised up and cut our losses, and came home. Along the way the storm started to hit, and one of the tents that had been set up came loose from one side of its support structure, and it was just flapping and whipping around like a sail on a pirate ship in 30 foot seas. I had an unhealthy urge to throw a ball on top of it to watch it bounce the ball around. We made it into the metro stop just as the sky opened up and the lightning started in earnest.
On the metro train on the way back, three people gave up their seats so the kids would have somewhere to sit, and helped us make sure all of them got off with us when we had to transfer trains. Good karma thing whatever number I'm on: no one gives up metro seats, even when you're pregnant. This is a small miracle.
When we got back to Shady Grove metro, we gave the day-long passes to someone else who was entering the station, hoping to pass along the karma. There is a creek that runs basically through the metro property, and in the grass near the creek, not ten feet from the parking lot, was an adorable fuzzy duckling, with no sign of its parents around anywhere. Sunny nearly passed out from delight, and dissolved into a hot mess when we told her she couldn't take it home with her. Mean parents we are.
The kids jumped in some filthy ass puddles, I got all worked up about the filth, as is in my job description, and we came home infinitely poorer, but wiser. The Green House exhibit has been extended to June 24, so we will be getting a sitter and heading down for a night on the town sometime next month.