We waited for an hour only to see elephants walk down Goodale Avenue in three minutes flat. The annual circus came to town on Tuesday night, and as part of the festivities, the elephants get dropped off in our town and walk to the arena. I think I have gone every year since Maria was two. As we walked down the hill to Goodale Avenue, a group of eccentric, tattooed teenagers walked up the hill towards us. Some were smoking, others drinking Mountain Dew. I had a hunch they may have been with the circus gang, and we were worried that we were late so I asked them if they had seen the elephants. They chuckled and replied “We have seen too many elephants – we are trying to get away from them!” My hunch was right, and we weren’t late. Alleluia.
When we arrived, there were about 20 other families in the park playing on the swings and slides and glancing up at the street every few minutes to see if there were any elephants in sight. We played around at the park for what seemed like a year since it was nearing bedtime when we heard a man drive by in a pick-up truck with a circus emblem on it yelling out his window “the elephants are coming.” All of the parents scurried up the hill to the curb of the street squinting down the road to try to catch a glimpse of the mammoth creatures. But, alas, no elephants.
I looked around at the other parents who looked irritated about the delay. The kids started to whine and pull at their parents’ shirts and pants. Others complained about the gnats and the heat (including my little dears). My mind went back to the man who yelled from his pick-up – he probably had no idea when the elephants were coming – he just liked to play that game to see a bunch of gaggling parents run at his command. After all, who were we to whine and complain about the delay when he and the rest of his crew spent countless hours on a train and would likely spend countless hours preparing for the circus this weekend. We, on the other hand, would head back to our quaint houses and snuggle into our warm beds for a good night’s sleep.
I tried to keep that in mind as I listened to Mario complain about the gnats and itching and Maria complain about being hot. One of my biggest pet peeves is the act of judging, and I find that I engage in that act when I am irritable, frustrated and tired. So, I kept my spirits up by thinking about how grateful I was to have the time to spend with M&M, to get to see elephants walking by us, to have the energy to stroll the kids to the park. And, then, ta-da! The elephants arrived. There was even a baby elephant holding onto its mommy’s tail with its trunk. Precious.
When we woke the next morning, I took Maria to school. It was her first day of going into her
classroom all by herself. They are trying to prepare the kids for next year when they are encouraged to go into the classroom without parents. She did pretty good even though I saw her furtively glance back at me with a sad little face. Mario and I decided that she would be just fine and left to get the bike to take Mario to school. It is an old beat up Trek with a child seat in the front. We hopped on the bike and headed down Third Avenue. On our way down, Mario pointed out the birds in the grass and the dandelions growing in the field off the road. Excitement and wonder filled his voice, and I felt like we should be plastered on the front of a Norman Rockwell magazine. All I needed was a long flowing dress as I rode my bike to top off the picture. I walked into work feeling energized and again, grateful for something as simple as a 15 minute bike ride with my son.