A gifted individual is a quick and clever thinker, who is able to deal with complex matters. Autonomous, curious and passionate. A sensitive and emotionally rich person, living intensely. He or she enjoys being creative. -definition of giftedness written by the Netherlands Study on Giftedness in Adults

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Ups and Downs of Vacation

97 F with 90% humidity
...and long sleeves.
So the kidlet has been saying for three years that he wants to visit the Smithsonian museum. We thought this summer would be a good time for three reasons: 1. 5th and 6th grades are US history grades, and since kidlet hadn't really had any US history in 5th grade we may as well take him to Washington DC to whet his appetite for it; 2. we haven't taken a family vacation in several years that was just the three of us, and 3. we were already going to be half-way there, in Chicago, for a celebration of my parents' 50th wedding anniversary. So, here we come, Washington DC. It was a grand adventure... but I learned a few things.
Mommy's mistake, packing: I told kidlet it would be hot where we were going, but I didn't explicitly tell him to pack clothing that would be appropriate for warm weather. He wore long pants and long sleeves. Fortunately, he did pack mostly short-sleeved shirts, but no shorts. At all. He roasted. As a Northwestern-born weather-wimp, the 90+  temperatures plus high humidity really got to him. But, he was a star traveler and didn't complain too much (although his favorite time of every day was in the hotel swimming pool!). 

Kidlet with his headphones
around his neck.
Mommy's stellar planning: I had purchased ear plugs and an MP3 player for kidlet to help with noise modulation. We were going to two big cities (Chicago and Washington DC), and I knew we would be in some places that would be quite loud. He used ear plugs for the plane ride to Chicago and for one night in the hotel, but sleep wasn't really the issue for him. Places where noise bounces around a lot was. Shedd Aquarium - where he enjoyed the shows and looking at the fish, otters, sea lions, dolphins, beluga whales, etc. was loud. L.O.U.D. LOUD. My brother and I both got overwhelmed by it (why didn't I take my own MP3 player???), and I ended up leaving for an hour and a half to take a walk through downtown Chicago just to get away from it. But kidlet had (wisely) taken his MP3 player that day, and even if he didn't have music playing sometimes he'd just put the headphones on to mute the noise. He did great. Even after a very long day of a lot of walking, noise, chaos, and a professional soccer game (fortunately not one of the more well-attended stadiums in the MLS, so the noise was there, but not too bad), and staying up WAAAAY too late - he was, once again, a star traveler. 

I think I did a good job of setting up expectations, but even so the kidlet was disappointed that we didn't get to any museums on our first day at Washington DC. He was anxious that we wouldn't get there, which made him impatient with all the walking we did as we toured the US Capitol, wandered around the White House and federal buildings, and visited all the monuments  and memorials along the Capitol Mall. And he was hot. By the time we hit the Lincoln Monument at the south end of the Mall, he was ready to head back to the hotel and swim. This became a consistent refrain throughout the rest of our trip, "why don't we go back to the hotel now to swim?!" By our last day of vacation, my husband and I had begun joking about how the only things the kidlet was going to remember from this trip would be the hotel pools. The kidlet joined in on the joke and now, if you ask him, he will say, "We did a bunch of boring stuff, then went back to the hotel and swam in the pool!"

As great a traveler as the kidlet is (and he really is a stellar traveler!) I think I have learned a bit more about trying to pack too much into one trip. We did a lot, frequently felt rushed and as if we wanted to see more, but couldn't. The kidlet learned quite a bit about the Battle at Gettysburg while we toured the battlefield (daddy is a great teacher and tour guide!), but he didn't care. He also didn't care much about the colonial days as we visited Williamsburg ("we should go back to the hotel to swim!"). He was ambivalent about the Capitol and government sites in Washington DC, but he loved it when we started singing songs from Schoolhouse Rock. But best of all was going back to the hotel to swim.
"I'm just a Bill, yes I'm only a Bill,
and I'm sittin' here on Capitol Hill..."
So I guess the whole adventure was successful - even though the kidlet didn't appreciate much of what we did, he did learn about it. He watched and listened as daddy explained the back-and-forth nature of the Battle at Gettysburg, and would pipe in about if a particular spot was a good defensive position. He read the Gettysburg Address on the site where it was orated, and seemed to understand the significance of what both sides were fighting for in the Civil War. He understands our government, how checks-and-balances works, and the roles of Senators, Representatives, the President, and the Supreme Court in making laws that fit with our Constitution. And he saw real trilobite fossils and a really big giant squid (that was the thing for which he'd been waiting three years!).

And he really liked swimming. 

Lovin' the sweaty hair style in Williamsburg's 100 F.


  1. I love DC. I have cousins who live in Maryland, which is just a hop, skip and jump away. Ever since I was a little girl, we would visit with them every couple of years.... we would often take quick trips to DC. It's a beautiful place and I love the museums too :)

    Cute pictures and glad he was able to go swimming :) But oh my - the long pants - too hot for that. Poor thing..

  2. :)
    We visited the Smithsonian too this past spring April. My son, on a deep sea creatures mission, was also thrilled to see that squid.
    But he was disappointed that Grandma and Grandpa's pool wasn't open yet.
    I sense a theme.

  3. Love this story! We can relate. Love the MP3 idea - must try that one. Thanks for sharing :-)