Monday, November 12, 2007

Circus Circus

So I took the Bunny and her friend to the circus on Saturday night. At the last minute I realized that we never in a million years would have taken her to the circus when she was 2 months old and so made the executive decision to keep Ali G home. I would have happily been the one to sit the circus out but it seemed kind of like an "I cut you choose" situation and dh chose to go home. Anyway, it was the fourth circus we've been too since moving to Mexico and the fourth circus I've ever been to since I never went to one as a kid. My parents (one? both?) objected to the way the circus animals were treated and so we boycotted the Ringling Bros, which happened to be the only circus that ever came our way.

Being an animal lover myself I wasn't too fussed about missing them but when some friends invited invited us to one a few years ago it turned out not to be quite as horrifying as I'd feared. It was a pretty small time show featuring skinny girls in small costumes and clowns in costumes that were pathetically moth eaten. And they did have an animal, an ancient depressed elephant that the children in the audience were invited to climb on at half-time.

The next circus we went to had lots of animals and in what seemed a truly anachronistic display of pride they would drive the animals, a dozen tigers, lions, giraffes, llamas, through town a couple times each day. Dh and I were standing by the road where the animals were being loaded and the tiger cage was parked directly in front of us. The animals were gorgeous, fat, relaxed, furry. The temptation to touch one was nearly overpowering. The only thing that stopped us from poking in a finger to pet that lush fur was the thought of how stupid we'd feel when our friends asked us what happened to our hands. So we took the Bunny to that circus and it was pretty incredible. The animals were amazing, 14 tigers kicked off the show by roaming freely around the cage in the ring, spraying their territory, wrestling with each other. At one point a young upstart pounced on the obvious leader and their tussling knocked over a whole row of stands. They both leaped to their feet with looks that clearly denied any responsibility. So that was fun.

The circus we went to this weekend billed itself as the biggest and most famous but it was a pretty rinky-dink setup. The performers were only okay, one woman's main trick was climbing up and down a ladder while balancing a 2' tall Barbie doll on her chin. That was a new one. And they had circus cows. The cows were positioned in the ring so that the circus llama could leap over their backs. That was a new one too. But they lost me when the camel trainer had to whip the camel repeatedly in the face to keep him moving around the ring. But at least I had the new New Yorker in my bag and that kept me entertained through the second half.

I did also have that parental quandary at this circus. How much crap do I or do I not buy? I generally don't buy anything because it's all just Chinese made plastic crap. However, this time we had the Bunny's friend and she was clearly used to getting anything and everything she set her sights on. Of course I don't want to go there. In the end I didn't buy anything. I had two granola bars in my bag that I gave the girls and that was that. However, I'm torn because I remember being in their shoes and wanting the Chinese made plastic crap desperately, as well as the cotton candy, popcorn, hot dogs, what have you. And I remember that I usually didn't get it. Every now and then I did get something I wanted and it was always a major thrill though I don't recall (and suspect the worst) that it stopped me from asking (whining begging threatening?) for more. And that is what I dread now in the parent's role. I find it exceedingly difficult to tolerate whining for more whatever hot on the heels of what I consider to be a pretty great treat. I know that childhood enthusiasm can quickly morph into the insufferable pleading of a junkie without pausing at gratitude for long. I just don't know the best way to teach that this is a bad thing and will ultimately result in fewer great treats. Anyone know? How to instill that sense of gratitude that all those cute little orphans (Annie, Heidi, Little Lord Fauntelroy)seem to have bundles of naturally but which real children seem to be lacking?
So anyway, that's what the circus brought up.