(Somewhere underneath Dupont Circle or maybe Metro Center)
Patrick: Do you realize I have never been on a subway before? You must be consumed with guilt.
(Confronted with a pool of melting ice cream on Connecticut Avenue)
Me: Oh, hey, watch your step.
Patrick: Where? What? Huh? OH!
Me: Keep going.
Patrick: (bent over with his nose to the pavement) But I want to.. what is that?
Me: Once upon a time someone dropped some ice cream on the sidewalk and it melted. The end.
Patrick: (long pause)
Patrick: That is really a tragic story.
I regret not bringing his baby book (note to self: start baby book for Caroline. also, Edward) because my little superspecial had so many firsts today.
First time on a subway.
First time eating food from a vendor (Patrick "Is this food... legal?")
First time watching rescue vehicles simultaneously en route to different emergencies.
First eye-witness of a burglary in progress (guy [A] raced by us clutching six jugs of Tide. CVS employee [B] ran after him. CVS manager [C] jogged after the employee. B completed flying tackle on A who sent Tide bottles clattering skyward. Patrick and I jumped into the street. C said, "Oh %$#@, oh *&^%." Patrick said, "Is this sort of thing usual in Washington?"
We went to the Washington Monument, the National Gallery, the American History museum, the Natural History museum, the Building Museum, the real Smithsonian (what is it called? the Castle?) and... something else. Oh right. Of course. Air and Space. We saw the IMAX Tornado movie which was exciting because this is Patrick's passion right now (tornadoes; he loves them - and yes one touched down while I was at the library but it was north of me by at least five miles) and we saw a planetarium show on cosmic collisions that Patrick snorted his way through in its entirety. The movie (according to Patrick) kept saying that x or y was fact when apparently (according to Patrick) there is still much debate on the various subjects. Anyway, Patrick got sort of heated and chatty which brings me to my holier than thou (not THOU of course because I am sure you would never but... the other thou's) moment.
I feel pretty strongly about the fact that children belong in the public sphere. They belong in libraries; they belong in restaurants; they belong on airplanes and they belong in movie theaters (within reason.) That said, I feel even more strongly that the reason that children should be permitted to hang out with people who neither know nor love them is because that is the best way for them to learn how to behave in public. The cardinal rule being: Never Disturb Other People in a Public Space. And it is pretty simple. If you are loud, if you are out of your seat, if your feet are anywhere other than the floor, if you walk to the left side of the staircase, if you try to go down when the sign says go up... you get gently - perhaps even lovingly - corrected. And if you do not respond to that initial warning, you get removed. Period.
My two pet peeves of the day were: the group of four 50-somethings who thought they were adorable every time they shouted out witticisms during the planetarium show (really? take me to your leader? for shame. if my 9 year old had behaved like that he would have found himself in the hallway in about half a second;) and the woman with two children whose entire family chatted their way through the tornado movie. Holy cats lady shut the fuck up. Yeah, I get it, your son was really excited to discuss what he was seeing. Mine was vibrating like a newt which was why I had to repeatedly hiss "Later!" in his ear before clapping my hand over his mouth. Not. Appropriate.
For Patrick's birthday we got him his own camera, presented three days early to take advantage of DC. He was pleased.
I said: Oh, that's a nice picture of the bridge.
He said: Thanks but to me it is an interesting picture of graffiti (zoom in- look right- imagine Patrick talking about the color red.)
Patrick: We should live here.
Me: You don't find it a little dark and creepy?
Patrick: Not really. It'd be like... like.. oh YOU know.
Me: No. I don't.
Patrick: That thing you sing.
Patrick: No! The... the Phantom of Oprah.
Me: Ohhh. Oprah. Yeah.
Patrick and I were pretty much dumbstruck by this one. It's a sculpture. That looks one-dimensional. Until you look closer and see that it has depth. And then you photograph it and... bam. It looks like a giclee cartoon on grass.
He spent fifteen minutes taking this picture. It was a long time as far as I was concerned.
PS When I delicately brought up the idea that I might venture out tonight I discovered that my mother was less concerned that I was going to be murdered and more perplexed by the idea that a guest in her home would consider going out for the evening. Without her. Leaving my child and sneakers and an increasing pile of dirty laundry. Apparently I was not raised this way. Thus I went to dinner with Patrick and my mother and then watched Gnomeo and Juliet on TiVo until they both fell asleep and I started a blog post. Would I rather be at the 4Ps? No comment. But just so you know I didn't blow you off so much as I was grounded. My loss.
PPS MY GOD. I just re-read this and nothing I said about children and the great world applies to airplane travel. You just survive that, feet noise and all. And no, children should not just stay off airplanes entirely. How else would they ever meet great grandparents?