If you have ever sent me one of those Get To Know Your Friends emails, or a meme as I think it is called on Blogger, you know my response to the Where Would You Want to Retire question is always the Washington, DC area. Not your typical retirement, I know, but it is absolutely my very favorite place in the world. I taught fifth grade for 10 years, and took my students to DC every year. My husband and I also have family and friends there that we try to visit, so I have spent a lot of time in the District. Last year I went on the fifth grade DC trip even though I was not teaching 5th anymore because it was only a week after I started my new job and the new teacher knew nothing. It would have been hard for her to be in charge of her 25 kids and their parents when she did not even know their names, in a city that she had only been to once! So this year I was not sure if I would get to go on the trip in November, since I teach everyone, kindergarten to 5th, but I"m not really a "Real" teacher anymore. Today I found out I get to go and I am SO excited!!!
Don't ask me what it is I love about this trip, because it truly is exhausting. We go for 3 days/2 nights, 5am on day 1 until 11pm on day 3, with about 150 people, kids/parents, who have mostly never been out of our little bitty Southern county. We (the teachers) plan every detail of the trip and act as the tour guides, usually having to get the bus drivers from place A to place B because driving in DC is so confusing. We have been at all times of the year, and have seen all kinds of weather. We have lost a grandpa in the Capitol, a dad at ESPN Zone (which was NOT a scheduled stop on the itinerary!), left behind a family at Air & Space, ran all over Pentagon City looking for the same ESPN dad, rescued our principal from an irate homeless woman, almost got arrested on the METRO for holding the door open for our slowpoke parents, etc..... It is ALWAYS eventful, and I ALWAYS wish for a big drink at the end of day 1!!! Don't even get me started on the parents who are more trouble sometimes than their kids!!!
But if you DID ask me why I love this trip, here is what I would say... I LOVE seeing college kids dressed up as Dorothy and Tinkerbell on the METRO on their way to a Halloween party. I LOVE seeing Ted Kennedy giving a Veteran's Day speech to veterans in front of the Vietnam wall. I LOVE that I have stood in the snow watching the lighting of the national Christmas tree on the White House lawn. I LOVE seeing 5th grade boys taking pictures of the PINK trees during the Cherry Blossom Festival. I LOVE that I have sat on the mall with half a million people watching 4th of July fireworks in front of the Washington monument. I LOVE that 10 year olds can actually shut their mouths and be respectful during the changing of the guard at Arlington cemetery. I LOVE the excitement on the bus when they can finally see the top of the Washington Monument and Capitol while we're still in Virginia, and that they know that DC is not in either Virginia or Maryland! I LOVE that I have stood inside the Pentagon in the exact spot that the plane hit on 9/11. I LOVE the family photos in the East hall of the White House and the 50 pound gingerbread house in the dining room in December. I LOVE walking around the tidal basin from the FDR memorial to the Jefferson memorial and seeing nuns eating their lunch. I LOVE the symbolism of the 4000 stars on the wall at the World War II memorial (for the 400,000 American lives lost). I LOVE the Greek place at the back of the Old Post Office food court and the Johnny Rockets at Union Station. I LOVE reliving every crazy moment with my great teacher buddies in the hotel room each night over Diet Cokes and Sex & the City reruns. But most of all, I LOVE giving the children a chance to visit a place where everything has such important meaning to who they are now and who they will one day be. I guess that's the teacher in me! Call me a big dork, but I can't wait to go to DC!!