Spoiler alert: we survive.
On a sunny Saturday morning, and after lengthy and detailed preparations that would qualify me to participate in organizing D-Day (if I’d had a past life,) we hopped in our car and drove east to D.C.
J packed enough stuff to stay a month. He wore all of it. His suitcase was heavier and better equipped than any other suitcase I’ve ever seen. At some point during his childhood he must’ve heard me say “always pack more underwear than you think you’ll need” because he only left enough underwear at home to use while his post-vacation laundry was being done.
This was the very first time we took a trip without TGG. We were cautiously optimistic about how this might turn out, but we were also ready to graciously accept defeat and head home early. A Saturday-to-Wednesday didn’t seem significant when we originally planned it, but once we got to our hotel we started wondering if we’d bitten off more than we should chew. Notice I didn’t say “could.”
We timed our drive in such a way that we arrived at the hotel shortly after check-in time. We suspect that his hotel has only one set of adjoining rooms because we got the same ones we were in the last time. This is not a bad thing because J was familiar with the set up, and even looked around as if to say “ah, yes…MY room.”
It seems that we are the bringers of heat waves. Our trip last year was in June, and it was pretty toasty. Our first day this time around was very much in the same vein. We have decided that we will plan for either earlier or later in the year the next time around. Maybe that way we will have cooler weather, or we will bring a much needed spike in temperatures to the area.
We walked all over D.C. J was so happy to be out and about! Of course, I took both iPads, and I bought him a set of headphones that worked a charm. September is a lot less crowded, and we managed to experience things that we had to skip last time. Last year J had problems with the crowds at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, but this year we walked around the Smithsonian American History Museum and the National Portrait Gallery. I made sure that one of the iPads was fully charged up when we left the hotel, and then I’d swap it for the other one as it reached 10% charge. This allowed us to be out for hours, and J could drown out the noises that tend to cause him anxiety.
We had Sunday brunch at the very crowded but very much worth your while Founding Farmers. We had a reservation for ten a.m. and, should you want to go there, get a reservation because the lines can be long, and the wait can be exhausting. After a hearty meal, we set out towards the National Mall, and ended up circling around the Tidal Basin and sitting for a while at the Jefferson Memorial. There is a very friendly squirrel there. This, and birds, were the only living creatures that gave J pause. The first day he was a little overwhelmed by the birds, but by the second day he was much better. I don’t know if he just thought to himself that they were as much a part of the environment as the buildings and people.
On Monday we made our way to Dupont Circle and explored a couple of bookstores that we had been hoping to visit last year. J had fun walking around. He also liked eating a mid-morning snack at Panas, a small place where they make delicious Argentinian empanadas. Tuesday was museum day, and J was relaxed and happy in spite of the seeming not-very-J theme of the day’s schedule.
I will now take a short moment to tell you about the one fly in our ointment. We took him to dinner too early on Saturday. I had mistakenly thought he was more tired than hungry so we went for tapas at a fairly early hour. In the middle of the night he was grumpy and disruptive, and we had to get out of our bed to deal with his anger. He went through several packages of bandaids, and he was complaining in spite of the snacks I gave him.
At around four in the morning I had to sit him down and tell him “these are all the bandaids you have left. If you use them all up, we will have to go home because I didn’t come here to buy you bandaids. When we get up, we will go to breakfast. If you want to go home then, fine…it would be nice, though, if you told us why you’re unhappy so we can help you.” Dear reader, that was the end of the bandaids issue. If I tell you that we came home with the packages of bandaids I showed him in those early morning hours, would you believe me? You should. He didn’t ask for any again. After this incident, J was very communicative about his needs and wants, and we ended up being thoroughly impressed with his behavior.
Now, the other thing I want to tell you about: we are SO GLAD we have made a habit of setting the table each evening and eating together! We took J to several very nice restaurants, and it was wonderful to see how well he navigated the sea of glasses, cutlery, trays with bread, etc. I know it sounds snobbish, but we wanted to take him somewhere nice so he would see that all the effort he puts here pays off. We took him to dine at a lovely restaurant called Casa Luca. We made an early reservation and it was wonderful! J ordered the gnocchi, ate his bread after dipping it in olive oil, tried the prosciutto… We then walked back to the hotel. It was awesome!
For lunch on Tuesday we went to Rosa Mexicano, and he loved it! The tapas at Jaleo were out of this world, and they had his favorite sausage: chistorra. If you’ve never had chistorra and you see it somewhere, try it. Dip it in something sweet like honey…J highly recommends it. We made sure we took him to places that might be crowded and noisy, and the headphones did the trick. We didn’t do this out of meanness; we simply wanted to show him that we cannot always go somewhere where he will have the absolutely perfect conditions. He adjusted very well.
We drove home on Wednesday and, after a one-hour delay in very slow traffic on the interstate, we made it back with plenty of time for J’s sitter to come see him. We had her over for dinner and he was very happy to start swinging back into his routine. The rest of the time until today has been dedicated to settling back into the everyday drudgery that is our life. He has been happy.
So that’s the recap of the Great Family Vacation of 2016. We hope to repeat it next year. We know now that J will happily go along with plans as long as we address the issues that can cause him anxiety. I cannot get rid of birds, but I can make small adjustments that will make him feel comfortable, and help him realize we care and are trying to help him.
On to other news and comments tomorrow. For today I’m basking in the glow of a successful trip with our son. 🙂