We finally, after several weeks of requests from Claire, went to the Texas capital building today. It is not far away, practically in our neighborhood in fact. But the weekends tend to fill up or pass us by before we ever get over there. Usually Saturdays fill up pretty quickly with Claire’s ballet and/or swimming classes in the morning, then Molly’s nap time, then lunch, then Molly’s and sometimes Claire’s afternoon nap time and/or errands. But today ballet was cancelled, and we decided to limit Molly (the sleepyhead) to one nap, and then the day sort of magically opened up for things like seeing the capital.
We spent all of five minutes driving to the enormous, 1888 limestone and granite 308-foot-tall neo-classical domed building and 22 acres of parklike grounds just sitting there down the street open to the public free of charge. We just parked, walked across the grassy approach, right up to the front door, and just let ourselves in. A state trooped escorted us through a metal detector and presented Claire with a “Junior Trooper” sticker as well as an extra one for her to give to Molly. Molly would end up clasping this sticker in her right hand for the better part of the next two hours.
As impressive as it is from the outside, the main building is perhaps even more opulent on the inside. The wide, elegant wood and marble hallways were flooded by soft light and lead to senators’ offices and wide staircases in every direction. Claire and Molly both loved the main rotunda. Molly pointed straight up with her usual look of wonder, and Claire spun around while looking up for a cool effect. The building exuded a calm confidence and sense of purpose rivaled only by a large, old cathedral.
This was all pretty good, but the real kicker for Claire was the fact that the House chamber was open, and something was going on in side. Kit and I took turns going in and watching from the balcony viewing area with Claire. It turned out to be junior high school kids holding a mock legislative session, debating the merits of some sort of domestic animal protection law. There was a lot of ernest, mumbling adolescent debate going on, along the lines of “Imagine if this was, like, your own dog or cat or whatever. Wouldn’t you want it to have a shelter to go to? Or would you want it to just, like, die and stuff?” Claire was fascinated by it all. She just wanted to stay and listen. It was more entertaining to Claire than watching Arthur. I almost had to physically drag her out of there. But we needed to move on to lunch at the farmer’s market, plus Molly was starting to audibly fuss just outside the House chamber.
We promised Claire a return trip to listen in on the House debate. Claire spent a lot of the after noon pretending that the dog catcher was trying to “get” Muffin, which I assume was tied to something one of middle schoolers said in the House chamber.
After running around madly on the capital grounds for a while, we did manage to get over to the farmer’s market, another new weekend treat for us on our newly open schedule. We all had fun there too, even over Claire’s initial objections (who wanted to stay at the capital and listen to the teenagers debate). Kit enjoyed the best (and only) asparagus truffle benedict she had ever had while Molly chomped on a raw green tomato with abandon.