Well, the day didn’t go as I planned it, but it turned out alright.
Najwa had a friend over for the night so we could get an early start in the morning. I planned for us to head to the National Mall for the Kite Festival. And everything went according to plan except one little detail. Daddy had this ridiculous idea that he could buy a couple of kites from the National Air & Space Museum. I mean, of all places, wouldn’t you expect to be able to buy kites at the National Air & Space Museum? No-brainer!
Ok, so I messed that up. Maybe they do sell kites but the worse day to shop for one is the day of the Kite Festival. I get it now. Time to improvise before the little ladies tar and feather me.
Someone suggested going out to the National Mall where they were building kites. Maybe we can build one there. I like it. Could be my saving grace.
To get there we exited the National Air & Space Museum around 6th Street and headed west. The main staging area of the Kite Festival was roughly 16th Street, at the base of the Washington Monument. Each block is roughly 1/10th of a mile so we only had a mile to go. Then I can be the hero again.
But. There’s always a but. But we had to walk past all these food trucks and the luring aromas that wafted in the air. Suddenly the ladies were walking a bit slower. I thought it was the distance, but again I was wrong.
We barely got to 10th Street before the ladies insisted on getting something to eat. I wasn’t sure if they were that hungry, but I’m sure they did the math. One mile there, or in their words, “that looks far,” and then the mile back which made it look even further.
I was worried that if we ate first then went out there, the supplies would run out. That would make the mile walk back feel even further! With the little ladies staring at me with daggers!
So, instead of making another executive decision, considering I got us in the jam in the first place, I let them decide. Kite Festival then eat or eat then Kite Festival. They deliberated, discussed it among themselves, and came up with a completely different itinerary.
- Go to a playground for a couple of hours
- Go home to play Roblox
What about the Kite Festival? Not a priority for them.
Well, OK then. That was unexpected.
Back east we go.
There are dozens of food trucks that line 7th Street on the National Mall. And since the weather was nice, a bunch of people were out, the lines were long. My food selection criteria was simple. Shortest line wins. The ladies, however, wanted wings and fries. So did a bunch of other people. A bunch of other people who beat them to the line.
I got my food, ate it all and stood around wondering how they were still only halfway to ordering their food. So, I had an idea. I gave them eat a $20 bill to get whatever they wanted and told them I’d be over by the trees. In other words, I was leaving them on their own. In the spirit of free range kids.
Now, before Alani’s parents kill me, I never let them leave my sight. They just couldn’t see me. It’s that feeling of freedom I want them to feel, the feeling of having to fend for self. That and I wanted to make sure Najwa didn’t drop her fries looking for me because she can get a bit dramatic when she drops her food.
Watching them waiting for their food was interesting. They’re the smallest people there, almost buried beneath the crowd, and sometimes overlooked by the grown folks. But among the crush of people, they were almost too polite, getting out of people’s way, almost too accommodating for the adults who must’ve been having some hangry moments. They bobbed and weaved until their food was ready, said thank you [a sign I wasn’t that far away.] and were on their way.
Funny, as a parent it felt like I was a few football fields away. But once they got their food and started looking for me, it took all of 30 seconds.
But there were two lessons to learn that day. The first is to put the cash away when not handing it to the cashier. They underestimate desperate people. The other lesson is to count their change. I did. The meal was $11 each. Najwa got back $9; Alani got back a $10 bill. I left it at that.
From there we found a shaded area for them to finish their food. Nduku joined us later, we hung out a bit there, then headed to the park where Nduku took over.
It’s unfortunate we didn’t get to fly kites, but I appreciated how they handled the disappointment, agreed to a change of plans that was pretty well thought out, and how handled themselves well when I was out of sight.
A good day.