It all started when we were trying to smuggle 300 Dum Dums into Congress. My dad, known as Papa to our kids and Paparazzi to the adults, decided to document the event with his twenty-pound camera. Cease! Desist! No photography at the entrance to the Capitol.
The Paparazzi ceases but instead of desisting, moves back several feet and snaps a few more shots.
Security is not amused.
While I run the Dum Dums outside to someone who has volunteered to hold all of our group's prohibited items (granola bars, water bottles, several bottles of 5-Hour Energy), the guard keeps saying loudly over and over again, "We need to watch this man."
We were able to get through security, only after emptying our stroller and folding it down so the guards could force it through the x-ray machine (which would only fit after Matt removed a piece from it), while my father held open the door for us, although he was waiting for a couple of minutes while we reassembled the stroller. My dad shouldn't have shown his face again in the lobby, because it turned out that a particular guard was not his biggest fan. She had him come over, delete his camera card, got his social security number and drivers license, and ran a background check on him while we waited.
I'm seriously surprised I was unable to sneak the Dum Dums in while all this was going on.
Turns out, there were no connections to terrorist cells on my dad's record, so after ten minutes, he was released back into the wild to photograph anything...but the entrance to the Capitol Visitor Center.
We got to the opening ceremony in a Congressional auditorium just in time to hear the good news that the Creating Hope Act was introduced on the Senate floor this morning. Good stuff! And it made me smile knowing that Al Franken helped roll it out, because the act is good enough, it's smart enough, and doggone it, people like it.
And if people don't like it, they obviously aren't good enough OR smart enough.
Our first order of business was leaving the Capitol and recovering the prohibited Dum Dums. I don't know what kind of security threat Dum Dums pose, but I don't want to get on the same list that my dad got on. We then leisurely strolled around the Capitol talking about all the ways we were going to do the ol' shake down on Congress. It sounded intense, until we realized we would be unable to use the Dum Dums, so we had to resort to Plan B, otherwise known as talking like a rational adult.
I admit, sometimes I have problems with Plan B, but today it would have to work because my Plan C also involved Dum Dums.
We didn't need to be at our meeting with Richard Burr's office for another 45 minutes, so we had some time to kill. It was decided that we would dump the entire bag of 300 Dum Dums out in front of the Russell Senate building and sort them just for fun. We first picked out all of the cherry and grape pops, because those are Eve's favorites, and shoved them in our pockets. Then we went through the green apple, mango, and Savannah blueberry, because those are all adult favorites. The rest was mostly comprised of the crappy surprise ones, which are made up of miscellaneous brown and beige lollipops that most children don't like, but pick because they think they are getting grape due to the packaging.
Those pops are not good enough OR smart enough. These are the pops we are willing to part with if necessary.
We shove the "last resort" pops back into the bag and head toward the entrance of the building. A full stroller + a medium-sized child = where is the ramp to get into this building? Surely people with wheelchairs want to come to the Russell building. Oh look, wheelchair signs, this way!
We follow the signs and find the entrance with the ramp labeled "Staff & Wheelchair Access Only." I open the door and ask the guards if we are allowed to enter here with our stroller; they wave me in.
It is not until after we go through the whole emptying out the stroller, putting it through the x-ray machine, and having my belt set off the metal detector, were we told that we were not allowed to use that door again. Just because you have a stroller doesn't mean you're handicapped.
Yeah, I didn't think I was handicapped, which was why I asked if we were allowed to use that entrance. But thanks for letting me bring these 296 Dum Dums inside.
Me: So what door do we use in the future with this stroller?
Her: The front entrance.
Me: But there is no ramp.
Her: You don't get a ramp if you're not handicapped.
Me (Inner-voice): Does she see this thing I'm pushing is on wheels?
Me (Outer-voice): So how do I get it up all those stairs?
Her: You fold it up and carry it up.
Now, if you saw the stroller, and you saw the stuff packed inside the stroller, and you saw the child sitting in the stroller, you would probably schedule next year's visit to address the needs of stroller access to the Congressional office buildings. I have been waiting for a reason to call up the ACLU, and I feel like toddler-discrimination is the angle.
Fortunately I had Matt with me to help carry the stroller up and down the stairs. Because if I was by myself and had to unpack the stroller, get Eve out, fold it up, then carry my belongings along with the stroller up the stairs, Eve would have already been run over from darting into the street before I could get her to hold my hand like I'm assuming all perfect parents with perfect children are able to do as they come to visit their senators.
I'm far from perfect as a few of you know. I'm sorry to disappoint the rest of you.
It's almost like they don't want people with small children to visit Congress!