Let’s be completely honest. We drive to get anywhere. Sure, the teens might walk for ice cream once in a blue moon and the children roam the cove heavily, but anytime we need to go somewhere or do something, there is a car involved. Once we parked the car in the airport garage, the rules changed.
The very first time the plane left the ground, the children were glued to the window with giant smiles on their faces while I clawed the arm rest. The noise that the landing gear makes when raised and lowered is one of the most unnerving things I have ever heard. If I accidentally let out a teeny-tiny, itty-bitty scream when the wheels ka-chunked in or out of the plane, Doug giggled like a preteen girl. The children were oblivious. After the initial takeoff, they acted like flying was something they do every day. They behaved exactly like they do in the car. They played and chatted. Doug went one step beyond chatting. He got to know every single person anywhere near him on the plane and they talked the entire flight. We are terrible at going through security without creating a scene, but we are great at riding on the airplane. Wait. My husband and children are great on planes. I’m entertainment for the other passengers.
This should be just like riding in a car. It isn’t. There are no built in 5-point harnesses for the smallest children. The children don’t understand why the driver doesn’t want to chat and Evan has the same social disorder as his father. They both imitate accents when they are near them. While Doug quickly realizes what he is doing and stops, Evan ups the ante by making up words. Friends tolerate this behavior. Based on the way the hair on his arms was standing up, our taxi driver was not amused. He ignored my questioning his route instead of pulling out his phone to prove me wrong like Doug would do. When he dumped us and our mountain of luggage two blocks from our destination in total darkness in DC’s Columbia Heights, I decided I don’t like taxis.
This seems like it should be the problem-free way to get from here to there. It isn’t. First of all, there is my complete lack of a sense of direction that results in people talking me there all the time. “I can see you. Walk to the end and turn left. No! Your other left!” Besides feeling perpetually lost, by the second day in DC, my feet hurt like they have never hurt before. While the children climbed retaining walls, balanced on curbs and picked up every single piece of trash in the gutter, I hobbled after them as if I was their great-grandmother. The appearance of a crosswalk seemed to be some secret trigger for the children to walk backwards or hop on one foot or twirl with their eyes closed. The crosswalk timer was apparently amused by these dangerous street games and it responded by randomly jumping from 50 to 20 or even 10. I was fairly confident that a cabhole ( © Lucy Jilka, 2010) was going to seriously injure my family for our inability to walk the tempo of the city.
I thought the airplane would be the highlight of travel for my children, but I was wrong. My children loooved the Metro (even though they called it the subway). They could have spent the entire day riding the Metro and grinning like Cheshire cats. The girl teen loved the Metro too. She loved that she could go anywhere she wanted to go without her goofy family in tow. If I had anything resembling a signal from AT&T on the metro, I could have sat there and people watched for hours. There were people on the Metro wearing shoes that cost a mortgage payment standing beside people wearing the only shoes they own. Poor Doug had an endless array of problems with the Metro. He got to know the Metro employee with the Samuel Jackson personality really well. “I’m going to write on this ticket, ‘let the man who threw away perfectly good Metro tickets change stations’.” My only problem with the Metro was that traveling underground with no sense of direction is completely disorienting. Evan would like it if they added bathrooms to the trains.