Beth H. graciously offered for us to stay with her family like last year.
He opted for Natural History as he is in a dinosaur and fossil phase. Luckily we drove out of the rain near the NC/VA border and after a quick dinner arrived in time to say good night to Seth and William. One of the things I loved best about this visit was that Beth and I got time to chat, eating Sugar Mama cupcakes by her fireplace. Yes, the boys were crazy and adding a pre-planned friend spending the night Saturday night added to the insanity.
We found all of them shirtless, eating (again) and laughing at Home Alone 2. Beth told them they were not to be up before 7 am on Sunday. All were up at 5 am on Sunday and we found a map of how they would sneak downstairs. I LOVE the seven year oldness of it all.
On the museum front, we took the Metro into the city after bombing out on street parking due to the Autism Speaks walk on the Mall. I mentioned that we should check out the transportation exhibit in American History on our way to Natural History. I had the crazy idea for my WWII graphic- novel loving child to stop by the Price of Freedom exhibit before we left thinking he would want to see the WWII items and move on.
Nope, we were in that one exhibit for a good hour and a half. What may seem like a parenting fail to take him through an intense at times exhibit dedicated to American warfare, became one of the best experiences I've ever had with him. Ben checks out books each week about War from the children's nonfiction section of our local library. We talk about what happened in the war, the bad and good guys, and the weapons before he returns each week. How many 7 year olds can you you about Guadalcanal?
At one point we were looking at the information about the decision to use the atomic bomb and Ben asked a particularly mature question. A man who had been touring the exhibit nearby mentioned to me that he was very knowledgeable about the war. Ben told him about his books and I mentioned that I teach American History. I also mentioned that I share a similar love of our military history but that more importantly I want him to have the correct information explained on his level instead of just wondering aimlessly through the books.
We headed on Smithsonian Natural history seeing the dinosaur, gems/minerals, oceans, fossil lab, and mammals exhibits. We wrapped up our day, bought a tshirt for him and for Ian. Ben opted to pick a book about dinosaurs over a toy and we headed home for the sleep over.
On the way out we stopped to take our picture near a bank of beautiful fall trees on our way to the Metro. Ben reached over and planted a big kiss on my cheek. From the same boy that told me he was too old to hold by hand earlier in the day, a moment of utter sweetness.
I know that one day he will be too old and cool to hang out with mom, but for now I will take that sweet kiss and tuck it away. I hope when he is raising his own children that he will carve out alone time to try to know and love his kids, their interests, who they are becoming as they grow up.
Thank you Ben for a wonderful trip and for sharing a part of your interests with me. My heart is so, so full.