Okay, it wasn’t a school trip this time, but I seem cursed when I take other people’s kids anywhere.

I took the kids to DC on Thursday, hoping to see the damned cherry blossoms, which clearly hate me and drop from the trees as soon as they hear I’m coming (if you follow the link to the old blog, you may find no photos.  They had been hosted on aol photos, which tanked.  I may or may not get to re-linking them).  I took not one photo this time, for reasons that will become clear.  Julianna asked if she could bring Allie with her, I said sure as this is an age that likes a friend along.  Ben asked if he could bring a friend and I said yes, as the poor child is ALWAYS the only boy.  So of course Lily had to be allowed to invite a friend.  Which would make 6 kids.   I did not have 6 kids b/c I think it would have made me insane.  r.

Julianna and Allie got invited to Danni’s for a sleepover Wed. night, so I said “No problem, I’ll pick you up on the way!”  It wasn’t until I was about to set out that I recalled that Danni lives just off of 70, not 270.  I make that error in my head with a disturbing regularity.  All clear with Cam’s family for him to join Ben.  Just a little warning from his ma, “He sometimes gets a little carsick, so he might need you to open a window if that’s okay.”  No problem, we can open a window.  Lily’s friend wasn’t home. yay!  So Thursday morning, I get us out a little before 10, and go get Cam.  His dad said, as we were about to leave, “Should we send you with a bag, just in case?”  He said nah and I said, brightly, “We are not going to NEED that bag, right, Cam?”  idiot.  Out to get the girls from Danni’s and then back to the highway–nearly an hour out of our way, all totalled.  idiot.

We arrive at the Shady Grove metro station and go into a parking garage.  We had just emerged onto the roof, where there was parking, when Cam said, “can you open a window?”  I had just pushed the button when he hurled.  And again.  And again.  And, for good measure, again.  I stopped the van, let everyone out, brushed the hurl as best I could onto the parking lot.  I got Julianna’s pajamas out of the trunk and sent Cam into the van to change into them and put his clothes in a bag.  My first instinct was Go Home, but then I thought the other kids would be disappointed and might be mad at Cam, so I offered him the choice, call a parent to come fetch him or go back out and find a store and get some clothes. idiot.  He chose to soldier on, so we climbed back in the van–WINDOWS DOWN!–and headed out of the lot.

I wasn’t sure how much money I had on my metro card, so I went to the credit card exit.  Didn’t work.  Tried a different card.  Didn’t work.  A van had gone out just ahead of me, so I was convinced it should work and tried it several times with increasing panic.  Gave up, got in SmartCard line.  Insufficient funds.  Back into the garage to the garage office.  Closed.  Into the metro station, leaving the kids in the Vomit Van, to put more money on the card.  Finally escape the lot.  Head out to find a store.  I was even willing to go to WalMart if that’s what I came to first, but low and behold a Goodwill appeared.  Scored shirt and shorts, back up the road to the grocery store to get a multitude of deodorizing products.  Kids had a picnic in the parking lot while I cleaned and febreezed.  I kept an eye on Cam and let him eat about 3 bites of cheese before I stuck them back in the van.  Back to the station.  Park in the shade, leave the windows cracked.

As the doors of the train closed, I thought, “Crap.  I didn’t bring a plastic bag and now we have 30 min on another moving vehicle.”  I even sat sideways on a backwards facing seat so that Cam could have the forward facing one.  And I was a tense mess the whole time– “How you doing, pal?”–picturing Wendell Borton.  He did fine, though, and my relief when we got to Metro Center was great.  I said, “Now we need an blue or orange line train” and he said “We have to get on another train?” and I said, “NO!  We can WALK!” and off we went.  While on the train, Lily started to feel poorly and sagged against me the whole time.  She told me maybe she just needed to go to the bathroom.  She sagged and rallied all afternoon, stopping at every bathroom we passed.  So just factor that in to my stress/annoyance level.

My plan had been to leave DC by 3, to beat rush hour.  But it was nearly 2 when we got there.  So we headed for the National Museum of American History, which has recently reopened.  It was always my favorite as a kid, and I was excited to see what they’d done with it.  So was everyone else on earth.  Which you know, because clearly you were there, standing in lines and clogging the lobbies and breathing my air.  I hope YOU enjoyed it, b/c my instinct was to turn right the hell around and get. out.  I’d promised Julianna we’d see the Greensboro Woothworth lunch counter where the Civil Rights sit-ins started.    There was also an interesting exhibit showing how a house changed over the decades.  Julianna wanted to really read everything and enjoy it, but I had 4 other people starting to get antsy and roll their eyes, so I had to rush her along.  We’ll go back to it.

The redesign seems to involve making the exhibits more linear, rather than a big room full of stuff.  Unfortunately, that meant really long lines to see everything.  I do not wait in lines.  I said to Julianna that I did not care if it was a line to see Johnny Depp handing out lollipops, I was not waiting.  And certainly not to see Dorothy’s stupid shoes or Nancy Reagan’s ugly-ass inauguration gown.  We ended up in the transportation area downstairs, which was muuuch less crowded.  There was a most excellent camper.  and breathing room.

About 3:30, I decided we had to go, we went out, looked down the Mall, could kind of see a pinkish hue in the distance, and headed back to Metro.  Tense trip back–no barf–and to the car, which mostly smelled very strongly of air freshener.  I was worried about driving during rush hour with Captain Hurl in the back seat, but we were able to use HOV and did okay.  Delivered the extra children to their homes (poor Cam was probably starving since I’d not let him near food all day), returned to ours, had pizza, cancelled plans to go to NJ that very night as I had some car-cleaning to do.  By Friday, it wasn’t too bad and we were able to drive to NJ for the Passover seder.  I’m worried that when it gets warm it’s going to be bad, though.  If I take that van to a detailing place, they’ll ask for the deed to my house.

note to self and others: If a child’s parent suggests that the child take a bag along “just in case,” do not brush off the offer.  Accept it and a change of clothes to boot.