Today's Mission: Explore Uptown Charlotte.
Today's Goal: Experience city sights and sounds that were free and kid-friendly and educational.
Today's Purpose: Realize that city life is exciting, non-intimidating, and that our actions always impact other people.
Since we were on the train during a heavy commute time, there weren't enough open seats for all of us. I needed to stand by Annalyse and her stroller and the boys were having a hard time standing still while holding a pole and not bumping into other people. When two seats opened up near the front of our train car, I asked them to walk up and sit together and listen for me to tell them when it was time to get off.
A little hesitant at first, but they both obeyed and sat wonderfully still and talked quietly together for the rest of the ride. I tried to put myself in the mind of a four or a six year old, and I decided that they demonstrated wonderful self-control and self-confidence. It must have been very intimidating to sit on the opposite end of the train from me and be surrounded by big adults.
Their quiet actions caught the attention of more than one passenger who commented to me as they were exiting that my boys were "very brave" and "very mature." I smiled politely, because, yes, at that moment they were brave and mature. On a normal and regular basis, not so much.
In between making wishes and throwing pennies into the fountain, we talked about how Americans vote for a President, what the President does, and why it's so important to care about our leaders. (Whew. A little bit of learning did happen!)
Without thinking, Grady Lee raised his finger and his voice, to loudly announce, "That is the same man that was standing by me and Micah on the train! And he was on his phone the whole time!" Going back to one of today's purposes of knowing what our actions do to others, I reminded him we don't point and we certainly don't yell about people that are right next to us.
Before we left, a nice employee handed each of the kids a Wells Fargo souvenir gold coin, that Micah thinks is truly valuable, and she led us to a camera to have our picture taken and inserted on money. Huge hit with my kids.
With money souveniers in hand, we continued north on Tryon and stopped at the plaza outside of the Wells Fargo headquarters. Lots of flowers and fountains and seats - a perfect place for a mid-morning snack and some more penny tossing and wish making.
There were occasions where the boys were in a rush to cross the road and after looking both ways would begin to go. It gave wonderful opportunity to remind them that street-crossing rules are different in the city and that they need to look at the signal for the red hand telling them to wait or the white figure saying cross.
Grady Lee tuned in very well to discerning which buildings were offices and which were homes "because the homes usually have a deck with flowers." He was quick to notice a food store and mention that "people can live in the tall buildings and get their groceries here without having to drive! That's kind of cool, huh?" You have no idea, Buddy, no idea. That is one thing I miss terribly about Chicago - the wonderful conveniences of city life (and my view from the 30th floor)!
It was nearing lunch and we stopped at the 7th Street Public Market. Everything here is locally grown or raised - fruits, vegetables, grains, meats, and dairy products. We ordered a small pizza and the kids laughed so hard while watching our pizza being made and tossed high into the air. Grady Lee asked "which tall building the cows lived in that gave us the cheese?" I told him it was likely that the cows didn't actually live in the middle of the city, but were from farms close by the city. His response: "Yeah, because if cows lived in the city it would stink too much for people to want to live here and work here, right?"
When we were finished eating, Grady Lee suggested that "we be careful to put all of our trash away and that we wipe up the table. There are other people here that will see us taking care of our things and it will be a good example of what Jesus wants us to do." Well done, Buddy, well done. Back to that whole actions impact other people concept...
It's been a few months since we've last visited, and the main lobby is now transformed into a fairy tale featuring various settings common in most fairy tales (farm, work shop, dressing room, blacksmith shop, barn, kitchen, etc.).
Charlotte - it's home.