Tuesday, November 20, 2012
The Seat of Power
For today's field trip, after the kids and my brother and sister-in-law returned from their normal (non vacation) day, we all crowded into the car and drove into Washington DC itself, the capital of these United States. The last time I had toured this area, I was a seventh grade student on a class trip, meeting our New York local representative on the States of the Capitol.
Because both the House and the Senate were out of session, Raphaela and her two older cousins were able to run and play along the entire concourse of the Capitol Building, right up to the main stairs. It was a joyous event for them on this Fall day, and watching Raphaela break out of her usual clingy routine and run almost so far that I couldn't see her, watching her jump up and down the stairs and laugh, I could not ask for anything more.
It would be a far different story if we were at home in Jerusalem, waiting for the next siren.
I must also admit that having been outside a large urban area for the past 16 years, and with my political science side dormant, it was such an electric turn on to walk past these edifices of government and power. It is here, in a place like Washington, that you feel that there are little people collectively making big decisions, and the architecture reflects the seriousness of the responsibility. And while Jerusalem has the Knesset and the Courts, more of the decisions are made in back rooms and small meetings; the architecture of my home is warm Jerusalem stone.
(This morning when Raphaela woke up on Jet Lag time, 2:30 am, she looked outside the window of the house and exclaimed, "Look Mommy, a big tree! And another tree, and some more trees! And big piles of leaves on the grass!")
Along the way during our children's walking tour of the city, we all got ice cream - I chose a long time favorite, a Good Humor Classic Ice Cream Sandwich- and then proceeded to the Hirshorn Museum, where I saw the astoundingly artistic and politically provocative Ai WeiWei sculpture exhibit. My brother (not the art gallery fan) enjoyed it less, and chose instead to watch the kids in the lobby.
We rounded out the day on the famous Carousel, looking toward the setting sun on Washington's Monument. In the car ride home, before Raphaela fell asleep, all three kids engaged in a lively round of "Old McDonald," with Raphaela adding in her own spin and humor: "Old McDonald had a Volcano." (With a "shake shake" here and a "shake shake" there...) The mood was so infectious that we all joined in.
When we did a round of "What did you enjoy best today," my niece and nephew said without hesitation, "Ice Cream!" Raphaela responded, unprompted, "My Mommy."
There was one uncomfortable event, when my four year old nephew took off running down a busy street in DC, to the point where it was difficult to see him and it appeared that he was about to walk into the intersection by himself. As a mother, and especially as a parent raising a child on the crazy driver streets of Jerusalem, I immediately shouted out that he had to stop and wait for us. Later, it appeared that my sister-in-law was annoyed that I had not trusted him to be safe, that his independent spirit had been compromised. I immediately apologized if I had overstepped my authority and explained that I did not want to see him hurt, that it was not him that I did not trust but rather drivers who do not pay enough attention.