Friday, December 2, 2016

Touring the "City Hall"

On Friday, we went on a field trip of the Charlotte Mecklenburg Government Center, which is called a government center instead of a City Hall because it houses the government for the city, some of the state, and the Char-Meck school district as well.

Our homeschooling group was small because ten families dropped out within the previous 24 hours, which was quite disappointing; I hope the changes were due to illness sweeping through our group and not just lack of commitment.

In fact, I had to leave two of my kids sick at home with Daddy, but I was relieved John got to come because this would be most interesting to my oldest child.

Looking out at the skyline from 15 stories up
We toured the mayor's office, but didn't get to meet her as she was out of town today.

Photographs of our Democratic mayor with Presidents Bill Clinton and Barrack Obama

Our group in the mayor's office

The children really enjoyed touring the TV studio and learning about a green screen. Margaret (5) keeps telling me excitedly that she was "on TV" (but, shhhhh, she wasn't really).

We ended the tour in the basement City Council meeting room, where 15 of our students got to sit in the council members' chairs and have a simulated council meeting. We could tell the children were animated by that experience!

For about 30 minutes, the children were led through three real-life problems facing the city: Should the City give some money toward the Panthers renovating its stadium? Should the City increase recycling to weekly pick-up, even though that means cutting another service (such as garbage pick-up to every other week)? Lastly, in order to relieve traffic congestion and poor air quality downtown, should the City invest its money in buses, bicycle lanes, or widening the roads for more cars?

John and Margaret on the left

Thomas (16 months) couldn't handle being trapped in his stroller for more than an hour, and started to melt down during the City Council session. I took him to the hallway--the silent hallway that led to various meeting rooms full of people--to try to entertain him but, ultimately, the tour guide came to find me and offered to put me in the Mothers' Room. I didn't know what that was but gratefully accepted and almost ran my screaming baby there.

Two trapped toddlers socializing
It turns out it was a room for pumping milk, and it was arranged in a friendly fashion. Of course, I don't wish any mother to have to be separated from her nursing baby--ever. However, given the real world, I was so impressed with whomever designed this Mother's Room. It contained three partitioned off areas so three mothers could be simultaneously pumping. The City provided a free hospital-grade Medela pump, and each mother kept her own box of pump parts labeled and on a shelf, so she wouldn't have to lug them around. There were pictures of babies all over the walls to help it be cozy and induce warm fuzzy feelings (necessary for successful milk production). A lending library of books on pregnancy, parenting, and nursing were available on the shelves.

A final touch that was so thoughtful was a blank journal with a pretty, floral cover, intended for the various pumping moms to use as a diary and to write encouraging notes to each other. Even if they didn't run into each other in this massive building, they could write loving notes about their pumping experiences. As a mom, as a female, as a woman who has had to pump exclusively for two babies, I thought that finishing touch was the piece de la resistance.

We look forward to the next field trip! Rumor has it, we might be going to the Veterans' Affairs office!

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