Austin and Jamison have recently pointed out to me that I have become “one of those moms.” I constantly try to point out the educational significance of all the locations and sites that my two boys experience during our busy summers. Although, it seems that all I get in return is moans and groans from Austin and Jamison as they point out to me, “Give us a break, Mom, school is out. We are on vacation.”
Recently we took our annual trip to Virginia Beach, Virginia, to visit John’s family and the throes of cousins that the boys are reunited with. I adore visiting Virginia, besides visiting John’s family, it is also chock full of historical significance and educational locations abound. Our annual trip involves several “must dos” that are an absolute necessity when visiting the East Coast. Naturally we visit the beautiful beaches, tour Colonial Williamsburg (and the amazing Williamsburg Outlet Mall), savor Pongo Pizza, partake of the various Fourth of July festivities, listen to the weather channel in sheer panic about an approaching hurricane, and supervise all of our water babies as they spent hours in the pool, at beaches, and waterparks.
For years I have pressed that we visit Mount Vernon and I have always been met with resistance. We always seem to run out of time or have other options that seem to interest everyone just a little more. That explains why I was startled when Sunday morning, I was awaken by John proclaiming that we had to hurry if we are going to make it to Mount Vernon. My mouth fell open in dismay.
“Really?” I groggily questioned him.
“Jo, you have only been nagging me about it for 3 years now. It is an earned trip”
“I finally got my way? We can all learn more about our nation’s first President. Yay, the kids are going to be so excited.” was all I could muster as I hurriedly began my morning with a jolt of adrenaline.
After I pleaded with my history adverse family to go to Monticello one year, everyone had a surprisingly great time, including John who is not a history buff. So, the fact that he could see a glimmer of enjoyment in driving the nearly 4 hours to Alexandria, Virginia to visit historic Mount Vernon, gave me a certain sense of accomplishment.
Mount Vernon is the 400 acre plantation home of George Washington located on the banks of the beautiful Potomac River. I read all of the information that I could Google on my iPhone and read it out loud to my captive audience, since I had them contained during our long drive. By the time we arrived, everyone knew so much information about George, Martha, her children, and her grandchildren. In fact, I had droned on so much about the Washington’s that we all could have practically lead the tours ourselves. I did have to cut my educational foray about the Washington’s a little short because Austin threatened to throw himself from our moving car if I didn’t stop “trying to make him learn something while he was on vacation.”
As we paid for our tickets the sweet attendant took one look at 10 year old Jamison and said, “Oh you really should visit the farm. We have something there that is so special. You need to go see our babies. We have some cute little piglets.”
We toured the historic Mansion, and saw George Washington’s bed and his office. We toured the various out buildings, kitchen, slave quarters, tomb, barns, smokehouse, secretary’s house, museum, and the tons of gift shops. Austin took extreme pride in commenting on items during the tour before our exasperated tour guide got around to explaining them to the group. Austin would explain the item’s significance and then wink at me, as if to show some appreciation for all of my forced information about our first president’s family and home.
Just as we were thinking about calling it a day, Jamison mentioned that we didn’t see the piglets. So, after asking various tour guides in their vintage garb where we could find the piglets, and feeling like we walked the entire 400 acre estate, we saw a huge crowd gathered around a small fenced in pen area. A tour guide was there talking about all of the remarkable farm animals George Washington had, the various animal’s uses, and how Washington ran his farm. The excited tour guide also spoke about the “cutest things you have ever seen” in the pen.
The tour guide saw Jamison patiently waiting his turn behind the crowd and remarked at his patience and politeness. He told Jamison to come around to where he was standing and gave him an exceptional view of the precious piglets. Jamison smiled and pointed and asked the tour guide several questions. Then he walked back to us with a quizzical look on his face and never uttered a word. John, Austin, and I looked down at him stunned silence. Really? After walking our legs off and being reminded to find these special animals, we got nothing from him?
Austin couldn’t take the silence and started hurling questions at him, “So, were they incredible? What did they look like? What made them so special?”
Jamison thought for a moment and responded, “They were just ordinary pigs. You know, it sure doesn’t take much to excite and impress people up here. We would be rich if we could charge an admission fee to show these city folk the gigantic wild hogs that keep tearing up our front yard. You know those hogs are bigger than a Smart car.Austin grinned wide with a realization, “And can you just imagine what they would say about seeing a genuine Texas armadillo?”