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A TOUR OF THE WEST WING
Our tour took us through the briefing room, which was much smaller than you would think. There are four or five rows of chairs, and each seat has to do with a different position and where it’s ranked. Then we got to see the Oval Office, which was also really cool. Moving on, we learned that each First Lady gets to redecorate the White House restrooms in her style, and I marveled at the marble countertops, upgraded toilets, and pictures hung in brass frames. Because the West Wing is a working office, they don’t give tours during the day. The earliest tours start around 8:30 p.m., and ours was scheduled for 9:15 at night. Knowing it would be a late night, we did Jacob’s birthday celebration at home before the tour, then headed to D.C. for our night at the “museum.” Jacob was a super trooper. He was like a little grown up walking around and listening as our friend gave the tour. Sometimes it’s hard to believe he’s 9, but that night definitely proved his maturity. He is growing up.
One of the activities we enjoy doing as a family, especially this time of year, is visiting museums. Josh and Jacob love going on these excursions. They could spend hours looking at each historical artifact or piece of artwork. I, alternatively, prefer to look at an artifact and move on. I don’t need to read every word to take in my surroundings. This made our visit to the West Wing earlier this fall the best of both worlds for our family. We have a friend who works in the White House, and she kindly coordinated the tour for us. Our tour was hosted, so we moved along while still getting to learn a lot, and there weren’t placards at each turn the way there are in typical museums. For my parents, who were in town for the weekend, touring the West Wing was a dream come true. They had always wanted to visit the White House, and when I reached out to my friend, they set up our tour for right around the time my parents were visiting. My parents were happy to extend their trip slightly for the occasion. Our visit also happened to fall on an extra special day: Jacob’s birthday. It was the only day there was a tour spot available, and I worried that Jacob might be annoyed that the White House was going to steal his thunder. Instead, he was thrilled to see the West Wing and some of the things he’d been learning about in school in real life.
At the end of the tour, our friend gave us souvenirs: Hershey’s Kisses in special blue foil with silver stars. That was, hands down, Jacob’s favorite part. He was so excited. “You just toured the West Wing of the White House, but you’re excited about a chocolate with a special wrapper?” I joked with him. He is, after all, still a 9-year-old. I’m grateful we got to have this one-of-a-kind experience as a family. It’s pretty cool when learning and fun can go together.
Have a happy and safe holiday season,
–Meliha Perez Halp ern
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