My son Matt and I had walked down from the Smithsonian area, along with another chaperone and a couple other kids, because we wanted a look at the White House during a recent trip to Washington D.C.
We stared through the fence at Michelle’s garden, took a few photos of each other, then headed back to meet the rest of our tour group. We had a bit of time, so we stopped under a big statue of Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman. The kids sat down on the steps leading up to the statue and were chatting when I caught a bit of movement out of the corner of my eye. A squirrel was slowly walking toward us.
Now, we have a few squirrels scrambling around the trees in our Avoca yard, but generally they run the other way when they see us. This little guy (or girl, I didn’t get personal enough to know) walked right up to Matthew, my 17-year-old son.
The teens all watched, frozen, as Matt reached out and petted the squirrel. Other tourists in the little park watched, slightly envious, as all of the kids in our group moved forward to touch the furry little creature. Pretty soon they were all petting it. At one point, it tried to crawl into the lap of Rachel Carlson, who was not particularly thrilled with the situation.
Eventually we got back to our feet and headed back to the Mall. As we waited for our buses, others in our tour group were talking excitedly about the things they had seen, such as the National Archives, Dorothy’s ruby slippers, dresses worn by the first ladies and more. We had just been to see the White House, but all the kids who were with our little group could talk about was the squirrel.
“We just made a 25 hour bus trip and are in our nation’s capitol, and all you guys can tell anyone about is a squirrel,” I laughed, as the other chaperone, Rachel’s mom, nodded. “We have squirrels at home, for goodness sake.”
We did go back as a whole group to the White House the next day, where the Murray County Central choir sang the “Star Spangled Banner” on the sidewalk in front of the impressive building. While there, the kids were fascinated. Not by the White House, but by the men dressed in black they all saw on the roof.
“Snipers!” they exclaimed, then spent considerable energy trying to get the guys to wave at them.
There I was, fascinated by something I had only seen in pictures and on money, and the kids were more excited about the “snipers.”