Against my better 'mom' judgement, I caved and took the kids to the circus last Sunday. Something I said I'd never do again. The short back-story is that once upon a time, when Anna was a mere two-year old and I was heavy pregnant with James, Deonne and I attempted a trip to the circus. I paid an exorbitant amount of money to sit close to the floor so that our darling girl could get close up looks at the elephants and tigers, acrobats and clowns. I even dressed her in her cute circus smocked dress with matching hair bow so she'd look simply adorable at her first trip to the circus. (First child syndrome and all ... now I'm happy if all kids have all necessary pieces of clothing on.)
So anyway, unfortunately, the size of the coliseum paired with a ridiculous robotic and fire-breathing dragon that came out at the beginning of the show was too much for her brain to process - and she spent the better part of 15-minutes trying to convince us that she wanted to leave. After repeated shusshing and soothing on our part, the child had enough and screamed 'I GO UP THERE' at the top of her little lungs, and pointed firmly to the door leading to the concourse.
We relented and took her out. $120 down the drain.
After that - I swore off the circus - and any other traveling show.
Funny how time changes your mind and blurs the edges of memories so that they don't seem so bad and kind of funny in retrospect.
Fast-forward to the past week. The kids kept seeing ads and hearing stories of their friends going to the circus. I kept trying to field their not-so-subtle hints to go with every excuse in the book. Finally I told them the story of Anna and her two-year-old debacle and how because of that experience, I did NOT want to go to the circus EVER again.
Jack politely pointed out that 'it wasn't me mommy, I did nothing' with a big shrug of his shoulders. James chimed in with 'it wasn't MY fault mommy, I wasn't there,' and Anna rolled her eyes saying 'MOM. I was only TWO years old. I'm EIGHT now. I will NOT be afraid of a puppet dragon.'
What could I say to that?
So I purchased last minute tickets for the Sunday evening show. Not realizing that the circus lasted for TWO AND A HALF HOURS. I thought sure, 5:30 show - we should be out of there by 7:00 and home in time for a quick dinner, bath, and bed.
I have to admit that I was more than nervous to take the kids to such a venue. By myself. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, my kids aren't the best listeners. (Are ANY kids good listeners when the circus - THE CIRCUS - is in town?) But where some kids cling to mommy and daddy in big crowds - mine find some sort of inner independence and have a tendency to take off. So before I even let them out of the car we had a BIG mommy lecture. You know - the kind where I threaten them within an inch of their lives to stay close to me, not run off, hold hands, and basically do whatever I say to do? Or else. Or ELSE. And yes, I may have threatened to sell them to the circus to be pooper scoopers if they misbehaved...
Oh, and to NOT ask for anything. ANYTHING. We were there to see the show - not buy the light up toys or souvenirs or t-shirts or any of the random junk they sell for crazy prices. I told them we'd get a few snacks (thinking that wouldn't be too expensive) but we'd eat dinner later. Because the show would be over in plenty of time to have a quick dinner.
So on we went. And I gotta say, the kids were pretty good. No, actually, they were VERY good. They all followed suit like little ducks in a row, politely holding hands. They didn't ask or beg or whine for any of the overpriced crap - and happily munched away on their individual $8 boxes of popcorn and slurped up their $10 powdered lemonade drinks in the commemorative circus sippy cups.
They sat in their seats and didn't wiggle or try to move too much (partly because we ended up with awesome last minute seats in Row 9 of the front and center section 101 so they could see everything really well, and partly because there was SO much to see they didn't have time to get bored or fidgety.)
And they LOVED every minute of the show.
And I loved watching them watching the show. The pure delight in their wide eyes, the toothy grins and belly laughs, the ooohs and aaahs as they saw the acrobats flying, the squeals and finger points and 'Mommy looks!' they all gave were pure joy. I loved being a part of that. I loved that time with my three loves.
I also loved relentlessly teasing Anna about her dragon-phobia. The theme of this circus was 'dragons' - so every time a small (or large) dragon came out - I leaned over and asked her 'are you okay? You doing okay sweetie? Do you need to hide your eyes?' She didn't quite appreciate my humor - but thankfully is slowly learning to appreciate sarcasm. Slowly.
At the end of the circus - I looked at my phone and discovered it was after 8:00. Wee Willie Winkie was certainly in a fuss - my children were no-where near their beds. But they were troopers - walking in a little duck line back to the car, patiently waiting while we braved the (impolite) circus traffic that didn't seem to understand the concept of taking turns in traffic flow, and hanging in there at the drive-thru at McD's so I could finally feed them. At 9 o'clock.
At least they agreed I was 'fun mom' for taking them to the circus and letting them stay out so late on a school night. All that is, except Jack. When I asked him if the circus was the most fun ever!, he replied (while crossing his arms and scowling) "No!" I asked - "Why? I thought you loved seeing all of the animals and all of the acrobats, the motorcycles in the cage and the funny clowns?" He replied - "Yes, but I did not get up a light up toy. Humph."
Poor boy. Denied the essential piece of circus fun.
I suppose his night truly did come to a horrible conclusion - when he opened up his Happy Meal bag to discover that the awesome staff at our local McDs had forgotten to put in the toys.
Poor lad. That was all it took for the domino effect to occur... and the perfect trifecta of night-time doom to set in. The late night, coupled with no dinner, and a lot of sugar from a birthday party they attended BEFORE the circus (did I leave that part out?) resulted in the MELTDOWN. Tears. Foot stomping. Flopping on the floor in protest.
After scooping them up, wiping up faces, pulling pajamas over their heads (and maybe skipping teeth brushing), they were all put in their respective beds. And all were asleep before their little heads hit their pillows.
I think I evened up the score after that adventure - Circus: 1. Mommy: 1.
Can't wait to see what next year brings.