I’m a circus mom

I’m a circus mom

My kids go to circus class. And handball and gymnastics and drama and drill team and marching band. And in previous years ballet and art class and jazz dance and tae kwon do. Not all of them go to all of the activities of course, but 2 or 3 activities per kid, 4 kids in activity age-range, means I spend an inordinate amount of time driving my kids back and forth to activities and shows. It feels inordinate some days at least, like those days during which I spend three hours in the car driving back and forth across the island where we live, and sitting and waiting for this class to end and that kid to come out the door and the baby to finish her nap because she fell asleep again in the car seat but if I take her in she’ll wake up and be fussy for half an hour until she falls asleep again and then it’ll be time to take her out to the car for the next round of driving anyway. So I sit in the car, waiting and driving people places. That’s my hobby right now. Hanging out in the car. Seriously when I get asked the question, do you have any hobbies, my first thought is “driving people places” and then I feel lame. Although I almost never get that question in real life, not sure why, maybe because I’m sitting in my car all the time instead of talking to people, but sometimes I think it in my head. I still feel lame not having a better answer. And for asking myself questions in my head. That’s why I’m starting this blog, see, I need a new hobby, and writing blog posts can be combined with hanging  out in the car!  Two hobbies in one, but I can play down the car part and say my hobby is writing. Yeah.

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I don’t really think the amount of driving is inordinate in the grand scheme of things, or else I’d stop doing it. The kids often get more real-life learning from these activities than they do from school. Sorry school, it’s not you, it’s me, I just don’t love you the way you want me to. And we all know that really means I think it is in fact you, not me. You could do so much more, be so much better! Break out of your funk! Get creative! See the potential in all these amazing kids within your walls and help bring it out in them! But no, for you it’s tests, scores, standards, measure, compare, repeat. I respect you, I can work with you, but we have some fundamental ideological differences. Deep ones. So I see these activities as ways to get other impulses, try out other ideas, let the kids meet and be with other people and learn about all the possibilities that are out there.

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And circus is my favorite of all the activities they’ve tried. Maybe because I like to jokingly say I’m bringing the circus to town whenever I take all my kids anywhere at once. We’re usually loud and colorful and causing enough of a commotion to qualify as a clown act, not that I usually feel so proud and happy about it as it happens, but I can usually laugh about it afterwards.  But circus is just fun! It’s cool to be able to tumble and balance and dance on stilts and ride a unicycle and generally perform in a colorful funny expressive way. Good skills. And there are no winners or losers, no contests. Yeah, I’m sure circus contests exist somewhere, there are contests for everything somewhere in the world, but this activity here is currently contestless and I love that. The kids get measured and tested and compared and evalutated enough in their lives. Sometimes it’s really nice to find an activitiy where the main goal is to move and stretch and try new things and figure out what makes you smile.

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Before starting this blog, the waiting part of my sitting-in-the-car hobby often involved a whole lot of clicking and scrolling through Instagram and Facebook and other such sites. And I note that people have plans and ambitions for their children. That’s good, to a degree. And people’s plans and ambitions tend to mesh with their worldview in general. Understandable. I have ambitions for my kids too. For example I hope they will always feel that running away to join the circus is a possibility. It’s good to have backup plans in life. Of course I don’t actually want them to run away. I want them to be my next-door neighbors forever (Sorry, Mom!). If they decide to join a circus for real I’d be happy to go with them. Not that I have any circus skills myself and I’m of an age when it’d be difficult to build them up sufficiently, I guess. Although there’s that 80+ year old woman who rules the parallel bars, and 100 year old yogi women and stuff. My goal is to be like that one day. I should figure out how to do yoga in the car while I’m waiting for my kids, that would be an even better way to stack my life  (I’m a Katy Bowman fan, yes). Why don’t you just get out of the car and do yoga outside while you wait, one might ask. Well, because I live in a place where it rains 320 days per year, and my baby’s sleeping in the car, remember? and well, because I have a Hobby now, which is writing, I’m very busy writing this blog. But back to the circus, I could still join even if I’m out of shape. I can keep the books, manage the Facebook page, help with costumes, childcare, cooking. I’ll find ways to be useful, I promise.

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My kids of course have their own ambitions for their lives. None of which currently involve joining a circus, hmph. They want to be things like a lawyer, a police officer, and a crane operator. Nice sensible jobs. And yet I don’t think all this time I spend being a circus mom (and handball and drill team and gymnastics and marching band mom) is in vain. My ambition, the hope I have for them, is that they won’t end up feeling stuck. And when they do feel stuck, they’ll feel like they have other tricks up their sleeves, and they’ll try something new. Like dancing on stilts, or starting a blog. For example.

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Life on planet Norway

Growing up I wanted to have 10 kids. I also quite seriously thought I would have them on another planet. I read a lot of science fiction and I was sure technology would catch up with imagination by the time I was an adult and we’d all be choosing which planetary expedition group to volunteer for after college. I’d pick the one going to the planet with the slightly arid but hospitable climate, where the blue-orange tone of the rocks always reminded us of how far we’d travelled, but the cool sunshine and tender breezes and our little house next to the rippling lavender-rocked creek would make it all worth it. (It was the 80’s, I was really into pastels)  And the 10 kids, they’d love it. A whole planet to explore and wild (benign) nature to play in all day long. It’d be hard work, we’d have to homeschool, and homebirth, and home-doctor, and home-everything! Our nearest neighbors would be an hour’s walk away, and we’d spend most of our time in the garden making sure we grew ourselves enough food (with good help from the hydroponic gardening setup and seed bank we brought with us from Earth). Hard work, but satisfying. Pioneers in a brand-new world!

I’m a grown-up now with a husband and 5 kids. Half of 10, that’s pretty close! We live on an island in Norway, which sometimes feels like another planet compared to where I grew up in California. The kids go to the local school but my heart beats to the unchooling rhythm so I do everything I can to help them find and follow their own paths through life. Homebirthing, check, big fan! Home-doctoring, well I prefer manuka honey to antibiotics but I’ll go with the latter if circumstances call for it. No self-sustaining farm yet, but we have some strawberry plants, so maybe one day we’ll learn more and grow more. I’m always open to learning! So there you go, the world’s not quite where I envisioned it being with regards to interplanetary exploration and settlement. And if we did go to a new planet we’d probably have to kill off the natives in order to take over, and that’s not ok ever. But my life does sort of remotely resemble my vision from childhood, if you just squint your eyes and don’t pay attention to the pesky little details.