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Hazelnut’s Mommy-Daughter Date to Washington, D.C.

“Nuts,” Hazelnut says. At first, this is a statement. “Nuts?” Now a request. “Nuts!” Now a demand.

Her new favorite food is nuts. She doesn’t seem to have a particular preference, like almonds versus cashews, and favors a mixed variety.

“No. You’re not eating nuts for lunch and you already had some for a snack,” I said. “Unless you’re Maggie on the keto diet, nuts shouldn’t make up the bulk of your meals,” I add.

“Why?” Hazelnut’s favorite response to nearly any statement is “why?”

“Because Maggie is on a special diet that needs to be high in fat. You, on the other hand, should be eating a bigger variety of foods. Would you like to have a mommy-daughter date while Maggie is at school and Daddy is at work?”

“Yes!” Hazelnut proceeds to dance her happy dance and nod her head vigorously while mumbling something that resembles the baby shark tune.

I decided on lunch out in Washington, D.C. We still have to be back in time to pick up Maggie from school, but Hazel and I needed a day to ourselves where we were going outside our usual routine. Instead of the typical clean house, write, functional play, cook together, walking in the neighborhood, and playing in the backyard routine, we wanted to mix it up.

In families with multiple kids, each parent should set aside quality one-on-one with each of the kids. It doesn’t have to be a big event. It can be simple things throughout the day, like cooking dinner together or playing a game. There’s whole family time, there are marital date nights, and then, parent-child solo dates truly help build that one-to-one relationship that can get lost in the shuffle that is life.

A day trip to Washington, D.C., is easy for us. Depending on the time of day and traffic, it’s about a 30 to 45-minute drive from our home in Annapolis, Maryland. I look up gluten-free lunch options keeping in mind Hazelnut’s recent picky eating habits. Wherever we go, I want to make sure her order is a sure thing. A quick Yelp search pulls up a place called GCDC, a grilled cheese sandwich bar half a block away from the White House. Nearly everything on their menu can be gluten-free and I eye a side order of Mac and Cheese. Like any two-year-old, plain Mac and Cheese is a typical sure thing.

“Do you want Mac and Cheese for lunch?” I ask.

“Nuts!” Hazelnut begins to chant from the backseat. “Nuts! Nuts! Nuts!”

Oh, whatever, I think. She’ll eat it when it’s in front of her and if she doesn’t, Daddy will later. With an early nap in mind. I wanted her to sleep while we drove. Her napping in the car will make the rest of the trip much more enjoyable for everyone. Instead of the 30-minute highway option, I opted for a meandering hour drive through farmlands then suburbs then progressively more urban neighborhoods. As predicted, I heard gentle snores coming from the car seat.

I pulled into the parking garage next to GCDC. Most tourist parking in D.C. is on the street and despite multiple closures related to COVID-19 and lingering security concerns from events back in January, parking is few and far between. There are still crowds and loads of tourists everywhere. For our mommy-daughter date, lunch and a walk on Pennsylvania Avenue was our main objective.

GCDC had several customers lingering out front, some in line to place orders while others waiting for their food. The inside was reservations only due to social distancing and there were three tables outside, all occupied. I ordered Hazel a side of Mac and Cheese and for myself a gluten-free grilled cheese-steak with a side of tomato soup. I honestly chose this place because I thought it had the most kid-friendly menu along with plenty of gluten-free options for myself. A nice couple left and offered us their table, which I gladly accepted, and soon enough, Hazel and I had our lunch in front of us. I took my first bite and immediately thought this was the most delectable and delicious sandwich I have ever eaten. The texture of the sliced bread was crunchy on the outside and chewy on the inside, melty buttery cheese sauce married into cubes of steak. Simply put, it was delightfully delicious and far exceeded my expectations. The tomato soup was blended smoothly with hints of basil, the perfect complement to any type of grilled cheese sandwich. The best part, my picky eater who first eyed the Mac and cheese suspiciously, took her first bite and with gusto and enthusiasm, continued to take bite after bite with a smile on her face.

After our lunch, Hazel and I went for a walk. Even though GCDC is essentially a block away from the White House, the area was fenced off with security guards and several police dogs standing watch. It was difficult to view the White House through the fencing, but Hazel was more interested in the police dogs. “Woof woofs!” she shouted joyfully.

“Those doggies have a job,” I explain. “They’re police dogs.”


“Some dogs have jobs. Some dogs help people with different types of tasks. Dogs can smell things that humans can’t, so that’s probably why they’re there,” I explain.

I understand that Hazel does not understand what the police is, what a job is (except knowing that when Daddy leaves the house, he is working), or what the White House is. For a two-year-old’s mommy-daughter date, she got to eat Mac and Cheese, got to go walking down a new sidewalk, and got to see some doggy woof-woofs. All in all, it was exactly what she wanted.

Soon enough, we ventured back to the car and I drove around Washington, D.C., pointing out Smithsonian museums, gardens, government buildings, and monuments. Hazel wasn’t interested in site seeing, but she was excited whenever we saw a doggy woof-woof on our way back to pick up Maggie from school.


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