Wednesday, 25 May 2016

A Trip To The Circus

When I saw an advertisement on a local selling page for special-priced tickets to see Russells International Circus locally, I knew I had to ask J if he wanted to go.

I know for some people it seems a bit odd, asking a five year old if he wants to go to the circus. Due to the fact that J doesn't like surprises, has issues with loud noises thanks to his hyper sensitive hearing and has trouble coping with large crowds, it was something I knew I had to ask him about - I couldn't just book tickets and spring it on him, nor could I presume he did want to go.

He was very excited about it, and kept saying yes. I asked him if he was sure, because it would be loud, and he said yes; I asked him if he was sure, because it would be very crowded and busy with lots of people, and he said yes. So I booked the tickets, and as the days went by he was counting them down til the day we went to the circus.

He asked me what kind of things they would have, and I really couldn't tell him much. Last time I went to a circus I was a child myself and I don't remember much of it to be honest. I said I wasn't sure but suggested there might be acrobats, trapeze artists and clowns.

The day finally arrived - Friday afternoon his Nana picked him up from school and brought him home. He went straight upstairs to get changed, then we ate a quick dinner of spaghetti on toast before we headed off in the car. J was as charged up as a fire cracker, firing questions at me from the back seat and asking if we were there yet. Then we pulled into the carpark and he saw the Big Top.

There was quite a crowd milling about outside and as expected we saw a few people he knew from school - it's a small town really and when the circus is in town you know you're going to see some familiar faces when you go - it's the same at the annual fireworks funfair, the Christmas night market and many other things. J was very excited and wanted to talk to and play with his friends, but he was very good and didn't go too far away from me, and made sure I knew where he was. After he had a few minutes running about outside it was quarter to six and I decided we had better go in and find some seats before it got too crowded inside. I allowed J to choose where we would sit. I was surprised when he chose the seats furthest back, but we had a good vantage point of the whole Big Top and he bounced in his chair excitedly.

From the moment it started, with smoke and lights and thundering music, I worried it would be too much for him - but he sat there staring, unblinking, totally absorbed in what he was seeing. There were acrobats, and trapeze artists, and one clown, as well as a motorbike high wire act, a magician who made his assistant disappear and reappear, a knife thrower, it really was a brilliant show. A couple of times J said to me it was too loud but I hugged him close to me and covered his ears with my hands until the music calmed down a bit and he was fine again.

Kizzy - the trapeze artist that stole his heart -
 J wanted to see trapeze artists, and she 
didn't disappoint with her amazing performance.

The motorbike on the high wire, with
his glamorous partner on the trapeze
swing underneath

The "Wheel of Death" was impressive

Alex the Clown played two of J's favourite songs
during one of his sketches - "Happy" and "Gangnam Style" -
which pleased him no end and had him standing up
clapping and singing along!

After a 2 hour circus performance, J was chatting non stop about it all for the car journey home and despite getting home at half past eight (his bedtime is normally 8pm) he was on a high and chatting away til half past nine to Daddy P telling him all about it and how brilliant it all was. When we did finally get him upstairs and into bed he crashed completely and was asleep within minutes, and on Saturday morning he said he just wanted a quiet day because he was still so worn out from the circus.

All in all, I was so pleased I took him. It was a brilliant evening of entertainment, (if you ever see Russells International Circus are in town I highly recommend you go along to the show, even if you don't have kids, it's a fantastic display) It was lovely to spend some time just me and J, without me having to tell him I was busy working / with the baby / doing something else - I could just focus on him entirely and soak up his wonder and amazement as he watched the show with shining eyes. It was brilliant. It was loud, it was packed, he did have a couple of "whirly" moments, but he handled them like a pro and instead of bolting he came to me and hugged me tightly (at one point in the show he was sitting on my lap). He was grateful for the break at the halfway point and had a run around in the fresh air (it was so hot in that big top!) but on the whole it really was a fabulous evening and we both had an absolutely great time.

You can find out more information about Russells International Circus by clicking here and check them out on YouTube too.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Missing Tiger

Anyone who knows J will know he has a "thing" about tigers. It started when he was a baby - Grandma P brought him a tiger soft toy, because Daddy P had one when he was a child that went everywhere with him, and it became his constant companion and travelled everywhere with us. Sadly he lost it, and despite me buying an identical replacement he never took to that replacement as well as he took to the replacement tiger that Grandma P brought, which was a bit different but apparently preferable!

Well, due to his "thing" with tigers, he has amassed quite a few of them (the soft, cuddly kind, not the wild animal, roaring kind!) Grandma P brought him a special one on his first day of school, a small one to go in his book bag and keep him company during the day, and as he's got older "school tiger" (as he is affectionately known) has become a very calming influence on J. When he feels he is becoming overwhelmed ("whirly" as he calls it) he will go to his locker and fuss "school tiger" and it helps calm him down and ground him again, and he finds he can concentrate better again.

On Thursday, J decided that "school tiger" needed to guard the lockers. So instead of being safely inside his book bag, inside his locker, the tiger was left on top of the lockers. All the kids in his year and the year above troop through this room, all the lockers are in there, so needless to say it was only a matter of time before it went missing. At some point after lunch (when his teacher noticed it on top of the lockers and put it back into his locker) J put the tiger on top of the lockers again and it disappeared. After school Thursday he went looking for it and couldn't find it. I spoke with the SENCO on Friday morning and explained about the tiger disappearing, she said she'd let J's teacher know and they'd have a look about. On Friday afternoon his teacher called to say she'd pulled apart the locker room and the classroom and couldn't find it anywhere.

Needless to say this caused panic for me. How would he react. What would he do? How would he cope without being able to go to "school tiger" for reassurance during the day? He has countless others that he *could* take to school with him, but none of them are official "school tiger" that Grandma P had got him specially to take to school, so knowing J none of them would be quite the same as having "school tiger" there. As we were going to the circus on Friday evening, J was distracted enough that he didn't mention it when he got home from school. On Saturday I panicked quietly wondering what I could do to ensure the safe return of the tiger as quickly as possible. Eventually I put messages on local Facebook selling pages and my own page asking for help from any other parents of children at the school. People were understanding, helpful, asked their kids, but every response I got back was "no, sorry, no news" and I was Googling like crazy looking for images that showed the same type of tiger that "school tiger" is so I could post it to show people what we were looking for. I couldn't find anything.

Then, this morning, I got a message from my friend R. Her daughter, K, has been good friends with J since they started nursery school. The message soothed me immediately. "Tell him not to panic" it read "K found tiger and he's at home with us. I'll bring him into school tomorrow morning." Well, thank heavens for that. Thank heavens that, although a hard lesson to learn, maybe J now understands a bit better that he can't leave his property out in the open where anyone can see it and it can go missing. We've explained it a million times but it doesn't sink in. He's so innocent in that way - because he wouldn't move something that belonged to someone else, he doesn't understand why anyone else would. It doesn't occur to him that someone else might take a shine to it and take it home themselves; that someone else might find it funny to hide it or that someone else might just dump it in the bin because they could. Thank heavens that, despite the fact we didn't know until this morning, K had seen it and knew it belonged to J and had the sense to pick it up and take it home to keep it safe. We didn't see her on Thursday after school and I didn't see her on Friday at drop-off, then my mum went to pick-up.

Thank heavens that, due to the circus distraction and afterwards the exhaustion on Friday night, J didn't worry about it a lot. I was prepared for hysteria, tears, meltdowns - fortunately we avoided that. Now that we are getting "school tiger" back tomorrow, there won't be any hysteria, tears or meltdowns about his whereabouts in the future. I have made it abundantly clear to J that under no circumstances is "school tiger" allowed to sit on top of the lockers on guard duty.

Tomorrow when "school tiger" gets home from school, I am taking a photo of him ... Just in case he ever decides he fancies a weekend away again in the future!