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I Took My Daughter to the Circus and All I Got Was Uncomfortable

We’ve gone to the circus every year since moving to Indy, specifically the Ringling Bros. circus. I grew up going to it — it’s been around longer than my grandparents — so when I was offered free tickets to take my family, I of course took the chance. I hate saying anything bad, but the truth is something was off this year. I’ve always known there to be a seedy underbelly to the circus, but it wasn’t until this year that it seemed more obvious. Perhaps it’s because we sat closer? There’s something to be said about the nosebleed seats: you don’t see (or smell) much of the detail.

What was a tradition is going to be ending with this last circus we attended — and for more than one reason, which is sad because there are parts of the circus I adore. But none of my most favorite parts involve animals. It’s one thing to allow a human to do silly and stupid things with themselves. But majestic tigers and elephants? Not so much.

We had to walk through protesters to even get into the building, which was the first thorn in the evening. I just started off uneasy. Then there was the merchandise: $10 for a snow cone in a ridiculous cup? $25 for a flashing twirling toy wand? Oh well, I wasn’t the one buying it. There also must have been a few new horses because the whole horse routine seemed strange. Then there were the tigers. Tasha the tiger seemed to be having an off night so when she was forced into performing by a shove and a hit in the back from a worker, I started to squirm in my seat. The elephants are the supposed highlight, but making something that big get up and down off the ground like that? I’ve been pregnant — big things don’t move so easily.

However, the human performers were spectacular. What a strange and wondrous existence to travel around, wear thousands of rhinestones, and have your main job be 10 minutes of insane performance. That I can get into. I could have watched the humans do ridiculous things all night. Forget the tigers — bring back the four girls that fit inside a 2′ x 2′ box!

With my love of performers I’ve already begun to look into Cirque du Soleil but I’ve heard some of them can be a little racy for the under-18 crowd. Not to mention the few performances I’ve seen on TV may leave Addie way more uncomfortable than I was at the regular circus. Has anyone taken their kids? I’d love some advice.

While I didn’t take any photos of the animals, I took a few of the performers to show my husband when we got home. The only person I forgot to photograph was the man they SET ON FIRE and flung across the ENTIRE ARENA. Who thought that stunt up?

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  • Jugglers 1 of 9
    Jugglers
    Did you ever see A Bug's Life? You know the two pillbugs who don't make any sense but are very excited about everything? That's these guys.
  • Tightrope sitter 2 of 9
    Tightrope sitter
    I can still do this on a good day, on solid ground. It got better when one of the other tightrope walkers came along and jumped over her.
  • Tightrope totem 3 of 9
    Tightrope totem
    Sure they weren't that far off the ground and they had a net, they still made me awfully nervous.
  • Pendulum cage jumper 4 of 9
    Pendulum cage jumper
    So this guy and his little buddy in the other cage must have had a death wish. One of them nearly turfed it face first when he tripped on a jump rope and the other one...well he did stuff like this.
  • Costume of flames 5 of 9
    Costume of flames
    I do have to give credit to the costume designers, the girls had dresses that were made to look like flames as well and it's all Addie wanted for her birthday. Sparkles for DAYS.
  • His and her aeriealists 6 of 9
    His and her aeriealists
    My friend suggested my husband and I look into this as a hobby. I reminded her it takes a special kind of husband to pull of the tights look.
  • Rope climbers 7 of 9
    Rope climbers
    They just kept adding more, and then they ALL FLIPPED OVER UPSIDE DOWN. Made my toes tingle in sympathy for their circulation.
  • Ringmaster 8 of 9
    Ringmaster
    He did his job well. It has to be one of the most recognized jobs in the world, and yet probably less than a dozen people have it.
  • Gymnasts. 9 of 9
    Gymnasts.
    With Addie just starting gymnastics these guys held her heart. They could do more flips and tumbles than I could keep up with, and when they landed? They didn't fall over from dizzy.

What are your feelings on the circus?

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