My home can be a bit of a zoo sometimes.
It’s a little crazy with four children, three dogs, three rabbits, a tank full of fish, a cat and a bearded dragon. Still, all that hadn’t prepared me for the circus I discovered when I arrived home from work Friday night.
They called themselves the “Quirkiest Circus,” and they might be right. My 9-year-old and 11-year-old daughters put together a half-carnival, half-circus for my wife and me.
It’s the time of summer, just before school starts, that many parents become exasperated by their children’s boredom. The kids have tried everything imaginable, they say, and whine about wanting to be entertained when their parents get home.
Not Friday, though. Our children had my wife and I roaring on our front lawn as my 11-year-old pretended to hypnotize a black, unblinking rabbit to help it sleep. (He’s sleeping with his eyes open, everyone!” she said.) I nearly fell out of my chair as our 9-year-old brought out her terrifying beast, which turned out to be a plush toy chicken. (“Stand back! It’s ferocious,” she said.)
The carnival games were just as much of a delight. They introduced us to the “Reverse Tug of War.” “You need a friend for that one, so hopefully you have one,” my smart aleck 11-year-old said. From opposite sides of a string, my wife and I tried to move a stuffed cow from the middle to the other side by swinging the line up and down.
They offered their version of the classic ring toss. We tried to throw paper plates with the centers cut out onto the cardboard roll at the center of a roll of wrapping paper. There was a chair next to that game, so I asked if I had to sit there. My 9-year-old responded, “No, I sit here because I get tired.” The wind kept blowing the plates off course, so I tried to cheat by putting several plates together. I was disqualified.
I also tried my hand at beer pong, I game I’d honestly never played and didn’t exactly know how they knew about. Their version had no beer, thankfully, but I did manage to bounce a ping-pong ball into two cups, winning a “free choice” and “dance to the ‘Kiki’ song,” which apparently means pretending to get out of a moving car to dance to a Drake song. I used my free choice to not dance to the Kiki song.
The highlight for everyone was the “clown shoe race.” They put a pair of each family members’ shoes in a big circle in the front yard. We had to run from one set of shoes to the next, putting on the next pair of shoes, which shrunk in size until you tried to wear a pair of our 4-year-old’s flip-flops. About halfway through my turn, I realized the only person with big “clown shoes” would’ve been me. Every circus needs a clown, so why not let it be me?
Eventually they realized the impact this review might have on their circus futures. My 11-year-old yelled, “Will you stop documenting everything we say?” I answered no.
I wanted to document their creativity because children today get a bad reputation for being lazy, unimaginative addicts to little screens. Completely on their own Friday, they came up with the “Quirkiest Circus” and these games.
As long as young people continue to have wild imaginations, the future remains bright.