The moving finger and all that
At this very moment, if you’re reading this column just after it was published, Muffin and Squeaker are at their first ever visit to a circus. They’re seeing the Big Apple Circus on City Hall Plaza, Boston, for the last Friday performance before it picks up and goes somewhere else.
And neither Nomi nor I will be there to see them enjoy it.
Instead, their babysitter is taking them to the circus, at our urging. When we saw that there would be a circus in town, we thought this would be a great idea. The girls are now at a good age to go to a circus: old enough to enjoy and remember it, and young enough to not dismiss it as “lame” or something only little kids go to. And we’re pretty sure they’ll enjoy it, as they’ve seen some juggling and acrobatics over the years, including The Red Trouser Show last Independence Day at Faneuil Hall and The Airborne Comedians at the Coolidge Corner Theatre.
But it did open up a question for me. I remember going to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus with my family when I was a kid. As far as I can recall, we only went once, and I seem to remember trying not to laugh at the clowns because I knew they were trying to make me laugh. But more to the point was the fact that it my parents did get to take my brothers and me to our first circus, as opposed to sending us with someone else. Should I regret the fact that I will be missing my kids’ first trip to the circus?
There’s the practical part of my mind, which notes that taking the kids to the circus could be a bit of a balagan (a Hebrew word meaning chaos or fiasco). In many ways, it’s a lot easier for Nomi and me to let someone else deal with the logistics of taking the girls there, finding seats, and hoping that they don’t get scared or declare that the circus is “boring,” which is one of Muffin’s new favorite dismissal words.
But on the other hand, that’s not really the issue here.
A few years ago, their babysitter took them to the Franklin Park Zoo. It was their first trip to a zoo, and they’ve been back a few times since. I had similar thoughts back then. I felt wistful briefly that I wasn’t going to be there, but then let it go. Although I haven’t been to a zoo in years, it’s not on the top of my list of things to do. But I wanted the girls to see in real life many of the animals they have learned about and come to love.
On the one hand, I suppose I could regret missing these trips with the girls. But on the other hand, it’s not like I haven’t had the chance to experience many of their other “firsts” already. and even if I miss a first, it doesn’t mean we can’t go with the kids a later time. I missed their first trip to the Boston Children’s Museum, but I’ve taken them there countless times since and watched them have fun each time. In truth, by now I’d probably have forgotten the details of their first visit had I been there with them.
When it comes right down to it, I’d rather give them the chance to experience as much joy as possible, whether or not I can be there with them. So, as always, I will treasure the firsts I do get to share with them, and do my best not to regret the ones I miss.
This week’s column is written by Michael A. Burstein.
About this column: The adventures of two Brookline parents and their twin daughters, Muffin and Squeaker. Copyright 2014 by Michael and Nomi Burstein.