Posted by: Bonnie Anderson | May 3, 2011

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of a Parking Space


Last month my daughter and I toured the D.C. area with her three kids and I was privileged to witness the review of our country’s history through their eyes.  Believe me, they think a lot of it is pretty boring.  But I was surprised at how much they enjoyed.

The first day that we went downtown it was pouring.  I dropped the gang off at the door to the Museum of Natural History and went to park the car.  If you’ve never been to D.C. you won’t appreciate the challenge involved – but it’s a doozy.  I, of course, made a wrong turn and headed out of the city, regrouped and then circled until I found a parking garage about a half mile from the museums.  I should have realized that God was trying to spare me and kept on heading out.

It wasn’t raining too badly at this point and I had a large umbrella, so I met back up with them in fairly short order (within an hour anyway).

You know that question you want to ask and think it might be stupid, so you don’t ask it?  Kids don’t have that inhibition.  The whole thing about there being so many presidents through history is tough for them to grasp.  It is also very confusing that we can’t just drop in at the White House for a visit.  The questions began – where is the President right now?  Can we see him?  How long will he keep being the president?  I tried to convince them that I caught a glimpse of President Obama waving at them through an upstairs window, but I’m not sure they bought it.

We also went through an exhibit about Abraham Lincoln at the Museum of American History.  This sparked the question – where is he?  Is he alive?  What’s so special about his hat?  Can we get a snack?

When it was time to go home, it was really raining hard.  I offered, even begged, for my daughter to let me go get the car and come back for them.  I’m not sure if she doubted my return, but she insisted that we could make the walk together – that’s her, me, her girls of 5 and 7 and her 2-year-old son in a stroller.  Off we went – right into tropical force winds and driving rain.  Our umbrellas kept turning inside out and we were getting soaked.  Ella shared my umbrella and told me at one point, “This is the worst day of my life.”  So many memories!

A few days later on a lovely, warm sunny day, back into the city we went.  We had not experienced the mall area yet and couldn’t go home without doing that.  We went to the Lincoln Memorial, which they all liked, mostly because we posed for pictures of us holding the Washington Memorial and also because the statue is so cool.  The questions began again – Is Lincoln dead?  Is he buried here?  Can we buy something at the gift shop?  Can we get a snack?     

To keep the confusion going we visited Monticello.  Ella (who is five) sat next to me during what I assume was an informative movie about Thomas Jefferson’s life.  The questions started early – who is Thomas Jefferson again?  Is he still alive?  Where’s Abe Lincoln?  Is he here?  Is that blood on the screen?  Why are you crying?  Can we get a snack?

The tour of Monticello was beautiful – purple mountains’ majesty and all.  A highlight for us was the kids using quill pens and writing some of Thomas Jefferson’s words in their own hand.  Today, as I pound on the keys of my computer and glance at the headlines that Osama bin Laden is dead, I am thankful for our country and the brave men and women who risked it all way back then as well as today.  I can only hope that my grandchildren will remember some of what they saw on our adventure through history.



  1. I love seeing our trip through your eyes now too! I’d write more but I need to go get a snack…

    • All joking aside, I had an amazing time with you and the kids.

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