Having two kids can sometimes cause a bit of Parental Deja Vu as they grow up. The eldest reaches their big developmental milestones and enjoys a myriad of experiences for the first time...and you observe and appreciate all this along with them. (While waving, clapping, cheering...and occasionally sniffling...) Then the second one comes along and does the same thing-- which may feel familiar, but of course is still super-cool all over again. No matter how similar they are, each sibling follows their own path just enough to make it interesting for another go-round. (Because it's all about Mom and Dad's entertainment, didn't you know?) It's one kind of fun to reminisce about "when your brother did so-and-so" because let's face it, there are a great many activities that we repeat over the years. But it's even more special, I think, when one of the kids has an opportunity to do something unique, making it a memory that can be theirs alone.
For instance: last night we got to watch Riley's school chorus sing at the annual Pageant of Peace, on the National Mall in downtown D.C. (This would incidentally be our first...and last...chance to do this, since Derek disdains singing and thus had shunned the chorus when he was in 5th grade.) The excursion entailed a whole lotta logistics, with the weather, the travel, and the element of "where the heck do we go when we arrive". First we had to calculate the realistic length of time to move from Point A (our house) to Point B (Federal Triangle Metro station)--factoring in a car trip to the nearest Metro (bonus: during rush hour), parking, purchasing farecards, waiting for a train, riding for 12 stops, transferring from the Red to the Blue/Orange line, and then wandering around the city until we stumbled upon the location of the "warming tent" where the children would gather with their classmates and teachers to prepare for the presentation. (Whew...I'm exhausted just reliving that...through the keyboard...) And lest I forget, we had to accomplish all this while dressed as if for an Arctic expedition: layers of shirts, Winter coats, ear warmers, gloves, wool socks...etc... (And yes, I was still cold...I kept glancing around hopefully for a coffee stand...or even a Hot Chocolate Fairy?...but alas, none appeared...)
Once we completed our mission of delivering Riley--safely and even on-time, I might proudly add--the three of us non-carolers had time to meander through the display and take in the sights. It suddenly occurred to me that although I've lived in this area my whole life, I've never ONCE made a point to visit the National Christmas Tree. (How crazy is that? Yet one more thing to check off....right before we move away!) So let me just say that it was bee-yoo-tiful...all towering and glittery and colorful and bright. Each state has their own decorated pine as well, so we stopped by to check out Maryland's. We spent a few moments admiring the electric toy trains running around the base of the enormous fir. (Derek even remembered the names of Thomas the Tank Engine and all his friends, which was impressive...even if it's one more example of useless trivia taking up valuable real estate in his teenaged brain...) Finally, we enjoyed the nighttime views of the Washington Monument and White House. Oh, and we (I) shivered...and tried (in vain) to restore lost feeling to my fingers...and bounced up and down to encourage some elusive body heat.
Then we reached the appointed hour for the main event. Heavily-bundled 10-year olds filed onto the small stage and managed to belt out tunes quite nicely...blue lips and frozen cheeks notwithstanding. They certainly seemed enthusiastic and festive, and provided a nice little amateur-glee-club show for their popsicle parents. So, having pleased their public, the performers were ready to be reunited with their families...for the reverse trip home. We had run into some soccer friends in the stands, so the walk (ahem, "brisk march") back to the Metro was a social one. (Teenagers huddling in a conspiratorial way, adults taking advantage of the chat time, 5th graders dawdling and being prompted to keep up). All-in-all, it made a lovely story to add to Team WestEnders lore, during our final December as official Washington-area residents. (I am happy to also report that I have even regained sensation in my fingers and toes--but if the recent frigid weather is a harbinger of the Winter that hasn't even begun yet...I'm hiring my own Hot Chocolate Fairy to follow me around until April!)