When in doubt, should you take the kids?


When my I was doing last-minute planning for our D.C. trip to Obama’s inauguration, I saw on a few websites, including our own Strollerderby, that a great many people were bailing on the trip because it seemed too hard to bring the kids.

It was going to be cold and crowded. There would be no heated areas, no changing tables. The ticketed areas banned strollers and food. Some commenters over at BabyCenter insisted it was “child abuse” to even consider taking a toddler (ah, the “everything is child abuse” gambit). One writer told me he was going to leave his infant daughter with her grandparents, but tell her later she had been there – maybe even that “Obama had brought her up on stage, Courtney-Cox-style.” NPR cautioned, “Think Twice Before Bringing Kids to Inaugural.”

I wondered if we should cancel the trip.

But my best friend and her kids were expecting us, and we couldn’t exchange the train tickets. Besides, we wanted our son to be a witness to history, even if he wouldn’t necessarily remember it. “I just wanted to be here” was the title of the CNN homepage the morning of the inauguration, and that’s exactly how I felt. I liked the spirit of this SD commenter: “TAKING the kids to the Inauguration. TAKING. For God’s sake.”

So we packed a bunch of warm clothes, decided we’d try to watch from back of the Mall, near the Lincoln Memorial, where it wouldn’t be so crowded, and bring a ton of goldfish crackers.

We were cold, yes, in spite of our many layers. I had to hand-feed my son a sandwich because he couldn’t concentrate on eating. I had to walk him around for the hour leading up to the oath, while he complained about the wind. “It is magical here,” I quasi-ironically texted my coworkers while standing inside a Port-a-Potty while my son repeatedly opened and closed the lock for entertainment.