It began at a Chinese restaurant. Weird, I know.
I was craving low mein noodles. My family trekked into the restaurant and I noticed coupons placed in plastic holders on the entrance table.
BUY ONE GET ONE FREE TICKET TO THE SHRINER CIRCUS!
I didn’t even know it was here. I bet Lil Diva would love the circus. I grabbed a few, shoved them in my purse, and promptly forgot about them.
January, Friday the 13th (insert horror music here)
I meant to run errands. We needed groceries.
Two hours later we still hadn’t left the house.
Then a friend posted on facebook:
“The Shrine Circus is in town and has a free event today at noon! We’ll be watching Elephants feast and talking to clowns. Come join us!”
Oh, hell yeah.
I immediately canceled any productive plans for progressing my To Do List and packed up the kids.
It was a test. If the elephants made the kids cry or freak out – no circus. If they liked watching the elephants, we would go.
We arrived to find a fenced off area and in the middle, folding tables piled high with apples and bananas.
“I want. Ba-na-na-na,” Lil Diva informed me.
“The bananas are for the elephants, sweetie. Oh, look. Clowns!” Several Shriner members walked the outer perimeter, donning make-up as only a clown will do.
They were the least scary clowns I’ve ever seen. One even had a Sponge Bob tie (not playing to the audience at all, were they?).
The distraction technique worked and my children actually stayed with me at our claimed spot.
And when the elephants came, my children stared, in awe of their size.
I think they only lasted through about ten minutes of three elephants shoveling fruit into their mouths.
But they didn’t freak out. They weren’t scared.
After a quick picnic lunch on a concrete wall, I tried to get into line to buy tickets.
My children were both wound up after the car ride and thirty minutes of standing still and failed to adhere to the “stay next to me in line” request. The landscaping was far too tempting because the ticket window was outside.
I almost bailed.
Then I went for the cop-out mommy solution. I turned to the guy standing behind me. “I’ll be back in a few minutes, okay?”
He smiled, so I’m certain he must have had young children of his own at some point. “Sure.”
I gathered the kids and went back to the car. I fastened them in their car seats. I gave them a snack. I drove to the other side of the parking lot, stopping 20 feet away from the ticket window in the front parking spot.
I did the ultimate Mommy No-No and left them in the car, fastened in their seat belts, with a pile of books and the snack remnants.
I did leave the windows open. I could also see the car the entire time.
I returned to the line, the gentleman kindly letting me in and not commenting on the loss of my children. Occasionally a giggle would reach me.
I got the tickets. Then I promptly took the kids to a playground where they could burn off the energy.
The next day we would discover what my children really thought of the circus…
To be continued…
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Have you ever dared leave your kids alone in the car?