Thursday, November 18, 2010

Is the Circus in Town?

Well it's naptime. We have become much more consistent around here with naptime right after lunch. We clean up out lunch mess, usually load and run the dishwasher, and then we head in for naps. Some days I nap too, other days Marek naps and Ardyn watches a movie quietly in her room. Sometimes we all nap. Sometimes just they nap. It's at least consistent timing, and consistent in the fact that Marek always gets some sleep, Ardyn gets some quiet time, and I get a break.

Today I have decided on "bubble bath" and have shut myself in the bathroom with the little electric heater and my laptop while I watch the tub fill. Then I will settle in with the new issue of Good Housekeeping and the JoAnn flyer for this week. I look forward to that!

Last night instead of getting right on housework after the kids went to sleep, I decided to watch Circus on PBS and do some crochet. It was fascinating, and it gave me a new outlook on the circus. When Ardyn was a baby I saw a special on TV about poorly treated circus animals and the elephant that went crazy and broke out of the tent during a circus, with a mother and children on her back. In a way I don't blame the elephant. But it was a vivid reminder of the time my sister rode the elephant when the circus came to Walnut. And it was very eye-opening as the elephant turned over cars and charged through the circus grounds, until he needed to be shot with a tranquilizer gun... all with innocent people... CHILDREN on his/her back. It was sad. But it was a strong reminder that these animals are just normal animals. They can be frustrated and depressed and in an environment where they are very scared or angry. I came to the conclusion that it really is not safe to put your child on the back of a circus elephant. What do you REALLY know about those trainers, or the condition the elephant lives and works in. What do you know about that elephant's temperment? It's scary. To me it became common sense that Ardyn would not ride a circus elephant. if she wants to ride an elephant let her go to India and ride a working elephant who is in it's natural habitat and respected by his owner. Let her make that decision as a responsible adult. But of course then I had this inner moral dilemma (which I suppose most people don't think about) about even going to a circus. I thought about our safety trapped inside a tent with tigers and elephants and whatever other animal may or may not be happy in their current conditions. I thought about the fact that merely by attending, we were supporting (monetarily) the possible unethical treatment of these animals that were in captivity. I longed for the days when I was a child and saw the circus as wonderful and amazing. As an experience that everyone should have at least once. I wondered exactly how I would react and what I would decide when it became time to see a circus. Would we go? If we didn't, how would I explain that to Ardyn and Marek? If we did go, how would I explain that we shouldn't ride the elephant. Oh choices. The last time the circus came to town I didn't know until it was already there and performing, so in a way I was secretly disappointed, yet secretly happy that I didn't have to make those decisions yet.

But then I got to thinking, we go to the Zoo. We assume that those animals (who were likely bred in captivity) are happy and well cared for. But do we know? No, not really. We hope. And then I think, if I were born in a concentration camp, instead of taken to one, would that make it right? Um. No. I can understand the protection of endangered animals, but aren't the rest of them there more for our amusement? Or is it for education? Or is it both?

I know that there are those of you who are thinking I am OVERthinking this, and that I am some nut job, but I really want to hear from those of you who have had this internal debate.

And I want to say that the circus special was a phenomenal look at families who are just like us, but live on the road. They have supper and they go to "school" on the road. The kids ride their bikes and the parents tell them they can't have coke to drink. It's all pretty normal. And the most fascinating thing is that most of them were BORN in the circus. And they are often 7th or 8th or even 9th generation circus performers. And what was also amazing was that this was a REAL Circus. We are talking tightrope acts, flying trapeze, dogs doing tricks, the whole gig. From my circus experience, i remember it being more of a zoo on wheels. I don't remember there being "talent" and artistic expression. So this led me to decide that IF I take my kids to a circus, I would like it to be a REAL Circus. with REAL performers and people who have done this their entire life. Not the circus that I went to where it seemed more like carnies with animals. What have your circus experiences been? as a child or with your own children? Did you see a big name circus? Was it a different experience? Did you feel safe there? Curious.

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