Friday, December 5, 2014

How parenting has made me ready for the circus

Who would have thought being a parent would give me the skills needed to be in the circus.
There is a whole bunch of circus-related duties I could perform, all from the skills I picked up as I helped the Missus raise three adorable children.
They really are good kids. They are not perfect little angels (like their father was at that age), but they have good hearts, mostly stay out of trouble and have high morals and standards.
But like all young adults, the teen years brought moments of great challenge for their parental charges and it was during those tumultuous years I honed my many circus skills.
I could be a clown. Ask pretty much any teen what they think of their parents and they will agree mom and dad are qualified to wear a red nose, funny wig and outlandish make up.
All teens seem to go through a phase where mom and dad are an embarrassment, old fashioned and don't know anything. It is amazing the 'old people' can walk and talk at the same time they are so incompetent.
Of course, I never thought that of my parents. Just like I never copped an attitude, thought I knew everything or considered them an embarrassment. It was always, 'Yes, mother' and 'Yes, father,' 'What ever you say father.'
No, really, that is how I was as a teen, honest.
Anyway, circus clown is more of a title bestowed upon parents by their children than one they have to work for.
But there are other circus jobs parenting is a perfect training ground for.
Lion tamer. Who has not walked into the lions cage – a.k.a. a teenagers' room to 'discuss' something only to come face-to-face with a ferocious beast.
Sticking your head in a lion's mouth is kiddie play compared to dealing with a hostile teen.
But the good thing about a teen, especially a teen girl, is if you wait a few minutes, their mood will change and the danger will pass. However, as all parents know all you have to do is wait another minute and a new mood will emerge, and so on and so on.
Such it the life of a parent.
When the kids are younger, parents develop skills as a juggler. My wife pretty much mastered the skill of holding one child and chasing another while carrying an armload of groceries.
If a professional juggler really wants to impress me – do all that fancy stuff they do while looking after an ankle biter or two, now that raises the difficulty level to extreme.
Another circus skill is tightrope walking. I am currently in the learning process of this one as I deal with a very emotional teenage daughter.
When it comes to dealing with a young lass who is being assaulted by a hurricane of hormones as she makes the transition from child to woman, walking a tightrope is a must-have skill.
I am quickly learning you have to achieve just the right balance between discipline and freedom.
If the discipline is too heavy handed, you aggravate the situation and said daughter throws up a wall of teenaged anger and defiance and things escalate from there (see lions den.)
Too much freedom and they could get into trouble, but not enough freedom and they feel repressed, spawning that anger and defiance I was talking about.
So it is a fine line, a high-wire balancing act of majestic proportions to find just the right amount of parenting and the right amount of letting them make their own mistakes and figure things out themselves without getting into too much trouble.
So being a parent has developed many skills that are applicable to becoming a carnival performer, and believe me, more than once I have thought about running away and joining the circus.

Copyright 2014 Darren Handschuh

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