Pulling up to the unmistakable striped tent, it hit me: I am taking wild, sleep-deprived twin toddlers to the circus by myself. And, “there better not be clowns…”
(I hate clowns.)
While on line to buy tickets, I didn’t see any clowns, but a camel, and a few miniature ponies trotting in a circle.
“Here! Did they get their glow-in-the-dark bracelets!” said a woman running over to us holding out a wicker basket.
Oh no, I thought, they are just going to eat them. But I said, oh, no!, all smiley, and I reached into the basket and pulled out two orange sticks filled what that mysterious–probably deadly if ingested–iridescent gel. Spying the “no strollers inside the tent” sign, and realizing I would entering a confined space with clowns, acrobats, animals, and you two on the loose, I figured I would need the sticks later for ammunition.
I parked our stroller by a hay stack and entered the tent, trying to find a space on the bleachers where the three of us could squeeze. Heaving to pick you both up, we teetered up the bleachers like a cock-eyed three-headed monster, me firing off a ring of “I’m sorries!” as I accidentally stepped on tiny fingers and feet. Plunking us down on a metal bench in the second-to-last row, I realized, it’s really friggin’ hot in here.
…The acrobats came out and you guys were in awe. Your eyes literally lit up over their sparkly costumes. You loved the gravity-defying feats. And the music, the music! C&C Music Factory! That song that reminds me of the times I went to the Jersey Shore (“don’t you know, pump it up, you got to pump it up”)! The MC kept calling for the audience to clap louder, and you did, you were following along! Things were going so well! Until…
You dropped your beloved doll through the bleachers, Baby Girl. I promised I would get her after the show. I tried to distract you. “Look at the doggies! They’re jumping through the hoops!” I whipped out the orange sticks. “Look!” But nothing could stop you from crying and pointing to your best friend below us, face down in the grass. When you decided to dive down under the bleachers yourself and get her, I decided I could not wait. Plus, your screaming might spook the animals. So I begged you to stay seated, Baby Boy, because at a minute older, I treat you like you are thirty-five. A woman next to me offered to hold you, Baby Girl, but you nearly bit her hand off. I begged you, too, pleeease, sit here next to your brother. Don’t move! Sit here! Mommy will be right back…Mommy is going to get Lily…Get those sticks out of your mouths. Stop eating the sticks. Stop. You continued to point and scream as I contorted my body like the Great Zerbini Family doing backflips before us and slid only my torso below while holding onto you with my legs. I was in a sweat. Like one of those games where you claw out a stuffed animal, I finally pinched the doll with my middle and index fingers. On the way back up I jammed my nose into the behind of the woman seated in front of us. It was extremely awkward for all parties involved.
But, I did this three more times, as you continued to drop Lily.
(At one point you had to be doing this on purpose. Lily is a stuffed animal, not a greased seal.)
The last time I came up, gasping for air, I caught sight of this tap-dancing rope throwing guy–the best way to describe him–in a gold lamé outfit with poofy sleeves and fringed capri pants and white leather cowboy boots just as you, Baby Boy, were this close to sticking your fingers in a little boy’s Snow Cone in front of us. “No, buddy, no, we’re going to go home and get dinner,” I said, catching your paws in the nick of time. Then the little boy’s sister flagged down a cone from a seller marching the rows. I watched it snake its way toward us. Crap, I thought, seeing it was pink. I knew you would flip out, Baby Girl, not able to control yourself within a foot radius of anything pink. (We are becoming quite the shoplifters at Stop & Shop this way. Shampoo bottles. Protein bars. You never realize how many things are pink until you birth Pinkalicious.) “Come on!” I said, getting frustrated when you did indeed flip out. “You don’t even like that! You don’t even like ice cream! You don’t even like anything cold!”
As this was happening, a family to our right ordered zeppoles. “Oh, crap,” I thought again. On cue, you guys pointed and grunted at their giant plates of powdered-sugar-coated dough. As the family took their first bites, you swooped in on them like vultures. I tried to hold you back, like two rugby players in a bar fight at 2:00 a.m. “Come on!” I said, literally struggling (how are you guys so strong?) “you don’t even know what that is!”
When I dropped my bag with the car keys down the bleachers, I knew it was time to go. I quipped to the woman next to me, “like mother like daughter,” then did my Great Mom-ini acrobatics one last time. I heaved to pick you both up again and we teetered back down the bleachers.
On the way out I ran into two people I know, who both said “I don’t know how you did this by yourself,” and you guys saw a bounce castle.
You ran to the bounce castle.
A woman stopped you from actually going in to the bounce castle because she said I needed two tickets.
I had to pry my two kicking and screaming children out of the bounce castle and literally drag you guys by the arms to a long line to buy two friggin’ paper tickets for six dollars.
I thought, I hate the bounce castle.
I thought, I am going to pass out from the heat.
I thought, I am in the Hunger Games. This place is an obstacle course designed to torture me.
I thought if they liked that much gold lamé, then I have to show them “Grease 2,” they will love Stephanie Zinone at the Rock a Hula Luau.
I thought, even if there were clowns, I wouldn’t have noticed, because I spent so much time looking at my babies’ faces.
I thought, that’s the reason why I continue to try things, knowing it might be tough, knowing I might end up sticking my nose in a stranger’s behind.
Those faces…make up for everything.