A while ago Kyle and I watched Water For Elephants. It got me to thinking about the Circus, as a family we’ve only ever been to one. It was a cool day, so I think it was spring, and I’m pretty sure it was 2010, so the kids would have been 5 or about to be 5 (times 2), 2.5 and Micah would have only been a few months old. Yes, it was 2010.
The tickets were given to us, so it was a free outing. Well sorta… Kyle bought snacks at the concession, and we bought the kids colour changing sword light stick type things, that cost 15 dollars at the circus, or 2.50 at the dollar store, but hey, it seemed most other kids had something, and it was a free outing, plus we always say no. Kyle reluctantly paid 45 dollars, for the three toys that would break within the week.
With a family as large as ours, a trip to the movies is well over a 100 dollars. Normally it doesn’t bother me that we don’t get to go out very often, but sometimes it’s nice to feel like the family that can. It was nice to be out.
So there we were in our seats, I had the baby strapped to me and Kyle had Natalia on his lap because all 22 pounds of her wasn’t enough to keep the snap-closed seat open. We always feel vulnerable when both our hands are full. It’s hard to reach out and stop Elijah from running off, or pick him up off the floor, or grab his leg, so he stops kicking the seat in front of him. It turned out he was a star. The circus captivated that little guy, for the most part he sat and watched.
It was a small circus, the Shrinners I think, the pace was fast enough, and the show short enough so kids didn’t get itchy in their seats. Somewhere in the middle of the acts was an intermission. All the kids were invited down to the floor. There was a giant inflatable slide, vendors selling balloons, and other over-priced merchandise, and various circus performers were doing a meet and greet type thing.
While all the other kids filled down to to the floor to slide, and run around,we asked our kids to stay in their chairs. You see we couldn’t trust Elijah not to get over excited, cut in line, run around, bump in to kids, or who knows what – basically we couldn’t trust Elijah not to let his autism show. Then there was the fact that there were four kids and only two of us. I don’t know about yours, but our kids never run in the same direction. So, we sat there watching all the other kids actively take part in the circus while we held our place on the sideline.
Looking back on this day I feel quite a bit of regret, mostly because we didn’t even bother to give them a chance. From our seats we fielded the questions from the kids about why they couldn’t go. They complained, but accepted our no.
There have been many no’s, many times we held back because it was too hard to even try.
I wish I had said yes that day. I wish we let them go a bit crazy. I wish I hadn’t decided they needed to sit still and behave while every other kid got to let loose a bit – high five a clown, head down the slide backwards, or actually stand in the center ring .
Life is full of regrets, and as far as this one goes it’s fairly minor. What I don’t regret is that we all sat there together. We do things as a family. It was too hard to head down with a son with autism, a tiny toddler and a new baby, so there we sat – all together. When my kids look back on their childhood and think about the things they didn’t get to do, for whatever reason, I hope they recognize that when we went without, we all did.
I hope that this becomes ingrained in who they become. I hope they look back and think – what we did, and what we did not do, was done as a family. We supported each other. I hope when they see injustice, and they see someone singled out, they’ll have the courage, and strength of character,to sit with them on the side lines.
The world isn’t fair, it never will be, but sometime it’s nice to have a little company when fairness eludes us.