I took my kids to the circus.
I’m not a big circus fan, since I always wonder about the elephants and if the animals are abused or sad in the cages, but I believe a child should attend at least one circus in his or her lifetime. So, when the circus came to town, my husband and I bought tickets in an effort to delight and amaze my two sons.
Why do I never learn my lessons?
When there is something “fun” on the horizon there is always too much pressure. Too much money is spent, time is invested, and plans are made. As a mother, why have I not learned that this equals disaster when it comes to children? Children do not follow a plan, and seem to have fun when we least expect it. Even when they were babies, they’d ignore the expensive gift for the empty box.
Back to the circus.
We pumped up our boys and as soon as we entered the gate, we were met by a giant parade of blow up toys that cost a fortune. And two children who wanted one. Cha ching. Then as we waited on a long line, they catalogued each snack they had to have : hot dogs, popcorn, snowcones, and chocolate. Cha ching. As we entered the big top, they killed time while everyone found their seats by selling things. Camel rides. Photos with the elephants. Pony rides. Cha ching. And while my kids eyes popped from the overabundance of stuff (my older one especially is a shopaholic and LOVES to buy things), a clown came around selling fancy light sticks that spun around and made one dizzy. Cha ching.
We fought the good fight and came out battle worn. Then thank God the circus started. With tigers. Lots of tigers. Unfortunately, they were in the center behind a high cage, so after a few minutes spent standing on their seats and craning their heads to see, my boys got tired and gave up. Then they said they needed to go potty, and my husband and I played an important game of rock, paper, scissors. I lost. Trudged to the porta potty cursing under my breath and hoped it would get better.
Trapeze artists flew through the air. Trained puppies and sweet ponies rode around the ring. Graceful dancers held by nets and doing gymnastic tricks took our breath away. And my boys were bored by the whole damn thing except for the clowns.
They laughed and laughed at the clowns, which was too short. After an hour, they claimed intermission and the assault was back on. More camel rides, pony rides, photos with tigers and clowns, toys and snacks and lights. We took another bathroom trip and had the following conversation.
The boys: “Hooray we’re going home now!”
Me, with my head twisted around like the Exorcist. “What do you mean hooray? The circus isn’t over. There’s more.”
They groaned and whined. “We don’t want to see more. We’re bored!”
Teeth gritted I bent over to hiss in their ear and not be overheard. “You can’t be bored. We haven’t seen the elephants yet! We saw a lot of amazing stuff today and you boys are being ungrateful. Mommy and Daddy took you to the circus to have fun and this cost a lot of money and we are going back in there to have fun damnit!”
The boys: “Mommy, I thought damnit was a bad word.”
Me: “Get in the big top and I don’t want to hear another word from you!”
Fun took a hard nosedive and never recovered. The elephants bored them, but thank God a guy got shot out of a canon so that entertained them enough for the last half. As we drove home, exhausted, broke, and defeated, I asked my husband why our boys were so strange.
I ranted and raved. “I was grateful to go to a drive in movie at their age! What kid doesn’t love the frikkin circus! What more do they want from me? I’m trying to give them experiences I never had the opportunity for, and nothing impresses them. Have we spoiled them? Is there something wrong with our kids? Is there something wrong with my parenting?”
My husband shrugged and remained silent. I think he agreed because he’s a smart man, but I swear he was thinking of something else the whole ride home.
So, once again in my bad mommy moments, I ask you: Have you ever felt defeated in your pursuit of fun? Have you ever threatened your kids in places that should have been magic?
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