Category Archives: Family

Delighted or Disillusioned? Low energy parent, high energy kid

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Delighted or Disillusioned? Low energy parent, high energy kid

Mom, can’t we please go to the park?” seven-year-old Elisa asked as she pulled on my arm.

Arghh. I’d just settled—finally—into the recliner for a little coffee break after working all afternoon at my in-home office. I’ll get so cold standing on that playground watching her! Do I have to? I thought.

“Are you sure you wouldn’t rather cuddle and read a story?” I asked.

“Aww, c’mon, Mom. I want to swing on the monkey bars.”

Sigh. “Okay,” I said, struggling to hide my exasperation. I knew she simply had to get outside to do something active or she’d beg me all evening to take her out. It was simply the way she was wired. Chalk up one more to the sacrifices of motherhood. I got our coats.

At the park, I impatiently shifted my feet back and forth. I blew out my white breath. I clapped my gloves together to keep warm. “Just ten more minutes!” I called out, as Elisa shimmied up a pole to some very high bars.

She swung powerfully, back and forth, back and forth. Startled out of my discomfort and impatience, I marveled at her coordination, and not for the first time.

“Wow, that’s great!” I cried out. I never could have done that as a kid—nor would I have even wanted to! What makes her that way? She obviously didn’t inherit the klutz gene from me.

While Elisa played, I thought about how she’d always used her whole body to express her personality. She never walked downstairs, she leapt—four steps at a time. She was compelled to get in her quota of at least 1,642 cartwheels per day. I wondered: when was it that she first earned the nickname Monkey?

E presschooler at the park

Perhaps it was when, at age two and a half, she declared she’d climb the rock wall at the outdoor store REI (and did so a few short years later). Or perhaps it was the day when she was only sixteen months old when, horrified, I spotted her crawling across the top of the monkey bars on our backyard swing set. As I ran to save her, she nonchalantly climbed back down! Hmm. Or was she already our Monkey at a mere three months, incessantly standing on our laps as we held her? I wondered: if she could have grabbed my rib cage before she was born, would she have swung from that? What makes her so nimble and so adventurous?

Suddenly I realized we had to scoot to make it to Costco before the store closed. Elisa and I left the park, picked up Aimee, and I fought traffic as the kids bickered in the backseat.

“Stop that!” I said.

“It’s her fault!” they chorused.

“It takes two to make a fight!” I replied very loudly and impatiently. (And that made three.)

As we entered the warehouse, Elisa’s face lit up at the sight of those wonderfully wide, long aisles. She impulsively cartwheeled through the office-supply section. I cried, “Look out!” as her foot nearly connected with a customer’s chin. I apologized, embarrassed. Frustration mounted as I approached the long checkout lines.

Later that evening, I guiltily looked forward to a quiet house with kids nestled in their beds. But my first request to “Get on your PJs and brush your teeth now” fell on deaf ears, as Elisa attempted some last-minute acrobatics.

“Okay, okay,” I grumbled, “just three more somersaults down the hall and that’s it—uh-oh! Watch the lamp!” So much for the trip to the park to help release her energy.

Eventually, Elisa’s sweet, high voice called from down the hall, “Mommy, Daddy, tuck-in!” We went into her room and bent over for the obligatory chain of butterfly kisses, fishy kisses, and Eskimo kisses. But as I nuzzled her soft face, I was drawn in. I lingered. My little pixie grinned charmingly—minus a few teeth the tooth fairy had taken—and sighed, “You’re the best mom in the whole wide world!”

Hardly, I thought. Yet my heart lifted. A grin tugged at the corners of my mouth as I recalled Costco cartwheels, somersaults down the hall…and her enthusiasm for life and tenderness toward me. My weariness from caring for an energetic child was replaced by delight in her and the privilege of being her mother. I’m so glad I’m her mom, I thought as I switched off the light. I couldn’t wait to tuck in Aimee next!

EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER 1 in:  Delight in Your Child’s Design, Second Edition,  Copyright 2016, Laurie Winslow Sargent. All Rights Reserved.

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Delight in Your Child's Design, Second Edition

A Circus for Big Kids: Ringling Bros Athletes Soar

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A Circus for Big Kids: Ringling Bros Athletes Soar

by Laurie Winslow Sargent

Legends circus image

A Circus for Big Kids (yes, even me!)

Last night I went to the circus, courtesy of Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey (at Raleigh PNC Arena, Feb 4-8, 2015). I was delighted to go but also confess to some initial skepticism. Past circus experiences (with other companies) attended when my kids were small were rather hokey and seedy, with overabundance of cleavage and under-abundance of impressive acts. I recalled battles over buying expensive whirling and flashing toys that vendors continually waved before my preschooler’s eyes. But hey, I couldn’t pass up a night out with hubby, my teen daughter and her boyfriend — and at least they wouldn’t beg for whirling toys.

It turns out, the show was amazing.  We were really all quite stunned by the high level of athleticism. My teen daughter must have said “Whaaaat?!” a dozen times, since as an athlete herself (runner, and a former stunt cheerleader with a flair for flying) she knew how difficult the stunts were. Here’s a taste of what we saw:

We raved at the high level of athleticism among the performers. Athletic older kids, teens and adults can appreciate the work and skill involved in the acrobatic stunts! The performers from various countries offered great variety in their acts.

Amazing Acrobatics

The China National Acrobatic Troupe did stunts on bikes, poles, through stacked circles, and while juggling; the Tuniziani Troupe  trapeze athletics amazed us with triple flips and seeming near misses with the ceiling of the arena. Paulo dos Santos, who at first sight was seen as a sidekick to the ringmaster and clowning around that sometimes emphasized his little person stature, ended up amazing the crowd throughout the evening with his own intense athleticism. Paulo is skilled in the art of Capoeira, (martial arts, dance moves and acrobatics) extremely popular in Brazil. His wife and three children are currently accompanying him on the Legend circuit.

If you see the video below you can get a taste of the acrobatics. (Note, the hanging-hair stunts mentioned in the video were not done last night, most likely due to an accident at a previous event that injured performers.)

Animal Stunts 

The Cossack Riders took horseback riding to the limit with jumps on and off — and crawling under and around — galloping horses. It was quite jaw-dropping.

Lion and tiger tamer Alexander looked as if he might be eaten alive at any moment, surrounded in a netted area by 8-10 tigers and lions — I lost count — until one rolled over for a belly rub. Yet even when several lions kissed him, I couldn’t help but think nervously of Siegfried and Roy (which didn’t turn out so great for Roy). If curious about how a lion tamer gets his start, read about Alexander Lacey whose family “raised more than 11 generations of lions and nine generations of tigers”. Regarding the cats in his own show, Alexander says, “Along with their mothers, we’ve helped raise them since birth. These cats are truly a part of my family.”

The canines of Hans and Maria Klose and were fun to watch, as they eagerly jumped through challenges (apparently in great anticipation of hot dogs!) There were other performing animals as well, including the elephants, llamas, and even barnyard animals in the mix. (See Ringling’s  Animal Care Web Links. )
circus panoramic view

Motorcycle Stunts 20150204_182907

The Torres Family from Paraguay wowed us on eight motorcycles zooming around inside a 16-foot steel globe. It was amazing enough with four, and they kept adding more to the mix.  They describe their technique inside the globe as “very much like what pilots do in an air show.”
 According to ringling.com,”Blowing a whistle and revving their engines to cue one another, each rider embarks upon a set pattern. Once the riders are in motion, maintaining constant speeds (which can reach up to 65 miles per hour) and the distance from one another is critical. Still, when they are inside the globe they are completely focused on where everyone else is and are making constant, micro-second adjustments.”
Johnathan Lee Iverson and Paulo dos Santos

Johnathan Lee Iverson and Paulo dos Santos

Even ringmaster Johnathan Lee Iverson has a story. At age 11 he performed with the world-famous Boys Choir of Harlem, then later was trained classical, jazz, hip hop, and gospel music. He graduated with a degree in voice performance and was named by Barbara Walters one of the ten most fascinating people in 1999. He has also has performed in off-Broadway productions and acted in various commercials, plus does voice-overs.

 A Family friendly show?

This definitely was a family friendly show (with very tasteful costumes) although the ticket expense for children is likely to be a bit prohibitive for families on a budget. If you do take kids, eat first, including sweets if you don’t want them to beg for $15 cotton candy! (Ouch.)

But quite frankly, I think small children are less likely to appreciate the complexity of the athleticism in the performers. I imagine some parents took tired kids home at half-time, missing some of the amazing stunts in the second half, although the first half had plenty of athletic action. A comment I overheard in a ladies’ room stall pretty much said it:

Mom to a preschooler, “What has your favorite part been so far?”

Child: “Da clowns.”

But I was delighted that as a parent of a now-teen, we could still have a delightful family night out. And it made me feel a bit like a kid again.