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"On my Spring Vacation I rode the Metro" - How to handle Stress

My family spent part of our Spring Break in Washington DC, as I have mentioned a couple times now.  It was a quick trip with only 2 1/2 days of touring.  In fact, it was never even a full day as six year-old's legs (in particular) get tired quickly.  But we made the most of it!  We visited Arlington Cemetery, The Smithsonian Air & Space as well as Natural History Museum.  We found our way into a Smithsonian Outdoor Garden full of sculptures and fountains. (A hit for our boys after a very over-crowded Air & Space museum!)  We took in the World War II memorial and the Vietnam Memorial as well as the Jefferson and Lincoln monuments.  We stood outside the White House and noticed the three snipers on top of the roof (and that is what we could see!), the helicopter circling over head and then the long line of black cars pulling out in front of the White House on a Saturday evening.  Very cool!  My boys, my mom and Hubs visited the zoo while I was at the Military Bloggers Conference.  We saw a lot.  (Knowing that there is SO much more to see!)

Last night my family was reminiscing.  What was our favorite part of the trip?  My eight-year old, *E*'s answer really surprised me.  "Riding the Metro."  You see we didn't even need to ride the metro but I wanted my Midwestern boys to experience public transportation.  So we drove our way over to Union Station from our Alexandria, Virginia hotel, parked in the garage and then the seven of us headed to the metro.
  • To start with we couldn't figure out where the metro was at Union Station; and the first "lady" that we saw, (with a vest on to indicate she worked there!) rudely and bluntly said she wouldn't help. period.  Fortunately, that was the only ugly-person we ran into.
  • We had to figure out how to use the machine to get all day passes to ride.  It was in a dark corner, in front of the turn-styles where all of the commuters were zipping through.  There stood my six and eight year olders taking it all in while the adults failed to completely understand how to simply get six all day passes.  After my mom and I asked a few questions of the metro-employee we got it all figured out.  (Self-help isn't always all it's cracked up to be.) 
  • We had to navigate all of the elevators vs escalators since we had a stroller.  (This really made it apparent to me how the metro is NOT very user friendly for those with disabilities) 
  • We had to navigate a few on and offs, train switches, station changes to get to our final destination.
  • As a mom I was particularly nervous as we stood there waiting for the next train, in an area full of people and a HUGE drop down to the tracks.  Gives me the shivers still thinking about an accidental stumble in the wrong direction.
There was stress.

My Special Ops dad was on high-alert.  My husband had his head in a map navigating us from one stop to the other.  I was pushing a stroller and holding on to the six-year old's hand, my mom was making sure we were all together.  Stressed?  You bet there was stress.  Did my eight-year old pick up on it?  Not one bit apparently.  So this has me thinking.  Did we do a good job of handling our stress?  I think so!  Are military-children, like my eight-year-old, resilient?  You know it! 

But, wow, what a learning opportunity!
  • When we were standing there waiting for a train we talked about how I used to ride the metro to work every day in the summer when I lived in Northern Virginia in my college years.  How they have something similar in Boston, where their dad went to college.  The history.
  • In one of several elevator rides a little boy in his school uniform got on, maybe ten-years old, and held the door for his mom.  She had a walker and was disabled.  The 10-year old boy, very polite and soft-spoken, told my son how cool his shirt was (Star Wars, of course) and we complimented him on how he helped his mom.  The little interactions.
  • As we stood there waiting for the first train to arrive, the boys got wide eyed when not only could they hear the train arriving but they could /feel/ it - the wind, the shake and rattle. The noise. The busyness.  Life!
It is wonderful when our true strengths find a way of shining through the stress.  The hustle and bustle of the metro could have ruined our day.  Instead it was a highlight!  What my boys walked away with was what they learned, not what stressed the adults out.  (And believe me my eight-year old is not oblivious.  He feels every one's emotion.  Takes it to heart.  Tends to make it his own.)

What do you learn in your moments of stress?  What will the kids take away from it?  Help them think through, breath through it, live with it in a healthy fashion!  Take ownership of these moments and call them memories.

- Leanne from MilitaryAvenue.com

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