Thursday, July 28, 2016

Through the Eyes of My Nephew

**Note:  Hi, Friends.  I started writing this a few days ago, but never had a chance to finish it.  I wasn't sure about posting it now, but I think perhaps my extended family members could use a little levity.**

Hey, Friends.

Remember how I told you that my Mom and I were surprising my niece and nephew with a trip to Washington D.C.?    We saw all of the monuments, went to several of the Smithsonian museums, and to the National Zoo.  We got back last night, and rather than give you the normal tourist recap (although I did take a ton of pictures to share at some point!), I thought I'd give you the highlights of the trip as recalled by my 8 year old nephew, Austin.

I have visions of him being asked to write about his summer vacation when he starts school again down in Texas, and my brother and sister-in-law being horrified when they see what he has written. This could be considered preparation for what they may hear coming out of his mouth at some point.

A little bit of backstory first...

Austin loves to ask "Would You Rather" questions when he is bored -- like driving in a car, riding on a train, or waiting for anything.  Normally these are more along the lines of, "Would you rather have to smell everything with your hands, or have your ears on the bottom of your feet?"  Shortly after they arrived for the summer, he asked my brother and I, "If you were homeless, would you rather live in your car or live outside?"

He was amazed when my brother and I both said we would live in our cars, and wanted to know why. I tried to explain that it would be a little safer, I would be dry and kind of comfortable, and I would have someplace to keep my stuff while I tried to find a job and get another place to live.  This is the conversation that followed:

Austin:  I would live outside. I could just walk to Grandma's house.

Me: I have a car. I could could drive to Grandma's house.

Austin: Okay...but what if you had a car but no keys? Ha!  What would you do then?

Me: I would still live in my car. I could walk to Grandma's house too.

Austin: I would live outside, but I'd have a skateboard.

Me: Why do you need a skateboard?

Austin: Because then I could be like Marty McFly in Back to the Future and get rides on my skateboard by holding on to the back of people's cars!  Zoom, zoom!

Just keep that in the back of your mind while we move on to the main story.

And now, Friends, I present to you:


My Mom decided to ask Austin what he remembered and liked best from his trip to Washington D.C. when we were on the train back yesterday afternoon.  It had been a long trip and he was getting a little punchy by the end of it. **Note to My American Friends -- you might think you are going to be overwhelmed with patriotism here.  You would be wrong.**

1) "There were a lot of homeless people.  Remember this morning there was that man sleeping on the sidewalk outside the hotel?  And there was the guy singing with the boom box, and the other day there were the people outside the grocery store?  And then there was that guy in the restaurant with the cup? And then there was that monk-guy who kept trying to give Aunt Tammy things so she would give him money and he didn't speak English?"

And then my niece, Lili (she's 13) jumped in with: "And the hotel had instructions in a book for tourists on what to do so they didn't get robbed!"

Austin: "It did?  But the key to use the elevator was really cool."

Me: "So Austin, remember the other day when you said you would live on the street if you were homeless?  Would you change your answer now?"

Austin:  **thinks about it** "No.  I would be homeless and sleep in the yard at Grandma's house. She would let me in and give me food, and money, and a shower when I asked."

Me: "But did you see Grandma give any money to the homeless people?"

Austin:  "No, but that's just because she didn't know them.  She knows me.  She would give me food and money when I asked."

The homeless people really made an impression on him.  Any time he is asked about his trip the first thing he says is that there were a lot of homeless people.

2) "It was hot!  Like really, really hot."

He's not wrong about that.  This is the day we went to the National Zoo.

"We had to walk everywhere, and it was all outside with the monuments.  And Grandma kept making us drink water all of the time so no one would faint."

Touching the Washington Monument.  Getting a little meta as I take a picture of my niece taking a picture of herself touching the monument.

 My niece had her own thoughts on it.  "And there were the people with the cross in front of the Lincoln Memorial singing about Jesus.  That was okay, but then they tried to start making everyone believe what they did and that wasn't cool.  They shouldn't have been doing that, especially there."

3) "And remember when we got back to New York, at Penn Station?  Grandma and I saw a guy get arrested!"  There was a brief argument after that, in which my niece basically called bullshit on it.

"No, he did!  Grandma, remember?  Lili and Aunt Tammy went to the bathroom, and we saw that guy walk up to the police desk holding the other guy's arms behind his back!  And then a different police man took him away!  It was so cool."

"And there were all of these Army guys walking around, like from Homeland Security."

"And remember they had the dogs walking around with the police, and they were sniffing everybody and their bags!  And they made the announcement that you shouldn't try to pet the dogs or play with them because they were working."

Lili had a few questions about traveling by train.  "I don't get it.  How come they can't be more like the airport?  The airport can tell you which gate you are leaving from hours in advance.  Why do they have to wait until the last 10 minutes before your train is supposed to leave?  Do they really not know which track you will be on?  It just makes everybody hurry and push trying to get there and get a seat.  And then people fight over where to put their luggage.  Aunt Tammy had words with that one guy who wanted to move my suitcase far away to make room for his own."   She's not wrong.  The crazy rush at the last second seems like it could be avoided...and I may have had a few words with a guy who tried to move her suitcase.  Sorry, buddy.  We were here first and we are using the overhead that is actually over our seats.  You're sitting nowhere near us.  Move along.

Friends, you might be wondering like I was, didn't Austin like anything about the trip other than police activity?

Yes.  Yes, he did.

"I wanted to ride on the giraffe (carousel at the zoo).  He was so cool, but then I had to switch to the ostrich because the giraffe was too tall so it didn't go up and down."

Giraffe joy

"I also liked the lemurs.  They were really cool."

Those are the highlights of our trip to our nation's capital, according to Austin.  I'd like to apologize in advance to my brother and sister-in-law for any mental trauma we may have given him.

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