what not to do when you visit the capitol

When mom was getting ready for her trip to Washington DC, we spent a lot of time coaching her on what to pack, and most importantly, what not to pack. Knitting needles? Fine, but put them in your suitcase. Laptop? Put that in your hand luggage and take it out at the security screening. Customs form? This is how you fill that out. Etc., etc. (As an aside, my dad used to email us every time we’d fly to California to visit him with these exact instructions, even though we did this every year or so and knew the drill by then. I always smiled when I got those emails as it’s pretty clear that taking unnecessary care of his daughters is my dad’s love language and it’s a lovely one at that.) Anyway, it was a little overboard, but hey, at least she got through security without any problems.

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Ironically, we forgot to do this when we went to visit the Capitol over Christmas break. At least, I had read aloud the instructions on what not to bring, but that was the extent of my preparation. As a result, the next morning, my mom got stuck at the security screening, with five or ten items (including knitting needles, a tiny pair of scissors, and water) you absolutely weren’t allowed to bring into the Capitol. Oops.

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You always bring a book, even to the Capitol. My mantra here paid off, as mom and I had a few minutes to ourselves while the rest of the family was off touring the House of Representatives and what better way to spend that than with a book?

Moral of the story? I resolved to next time not assume people were listening to me just because I was talking, and we all checked to make sure no one was bringing anything illegal to the White House tour later that week. I am happy to report that we got through that without any incident, although I felt a lot more comfortable when we had made it through the security checkpoints and were actually standing in the White House. After all, with our family, you never know what’s going to happen.

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