When my niece Anika turned 2 last August, I gave her a picture book about the circus. The book contained paper wheels that turned, making feet and heads of clowns, trapeze artists, and all manner of animals interchangeable. Anika, who takes delight in almost everything around her, giggled endlessly at the funny creatures she created as she turned the wheels.
When, a few weeks later, I read in the newspaper that the circus was coming to town in October, I knew I wanted to take her. Only the best seats in the house would do. I got tickets weeks in advance and enjoyed anticipating our evening together under the Big Top.
When the big night arrived, Anika jabbered all the way to the park about what we were going to see--horses, lions, tigers, elephants, and something sounding like "touse" that I eventually figured out meant clowns. I thoroughly enjoyed her excitement about it all.
We got to the huge striped tent set up in a local park about half an hour early. People were beginning to line up outside the entrance. It was the first cold night of the fall, and both the temperature and Anika's squirming anticipation made standing in the line an impossibility. We went and sat in the car to keep warm and talked some more about the circus.
When the circus music started up and the crowd finally began to move in to the tent, we joined the back of the line. It was moving entirely too slowly for Anika. With arms swinging and her face set toward the tent, she marched past all the people in front of us, her aunt in tow. After a while I gathered her up in my arms and carried her back to our place in line. This game went on until we finally reached the entrance.