I wrote this to my dad tonight. I thought I'd put it here, too.
Em went to her first circus today with some friends. She'd never been to one. Well, she'd seen Cirque du Soleil but it's not a traditional circus. This though, this was the whole shebang. Ringling Bros Barnum And Bailey, all that. The Greatest Show On Earth. I have such great memories of seeing the circus as a kid. When I got older, I stopped going, but as a little girl, it was the most awesome thing when the circus came to town. People who flew, tigers and gypsies, elephants and glitter, the smell of sawdust, hot dogs and a guy in a red suit with a microphone. It was larger than life, a whole world underneath a tent, contained in three rings. Magic.
Em did not enjoy the circus. She was very upset by the animals after someone handed her a PETA flyer outside and she says that she was worried about the elephants being mistreated and felt bad for the tigers in their small cages and wanted all of the animals to be free.
You know what I think?
She's right. The cages are too small and the elephants would probably be happier out on the veldt or wherever elephants like to live. Yes, compassion to animals is sadly lacking in mankind. I'm glad that there are people to help counter that, the Humane Society, the SPCA... there are many and what they do is heroic. But PETA crossed the line by handing children flyers about animal cruelty out in front of the circus. They do more harm than good when they do that.
She's right, and I am thrilled to have raised a child who treats all creatures great and small with kindness and compassion.
You know what else I think? I think that I am not so thrilled that her first and probably only circus was not all that it should have been. Because I think that *every* child should experience all the magic and thrill of the circus, even if it is only one time, before reality comes crashing in and they get a flyer showing someone beating an elephant with a stick. Ya know? I just wanted her to get one night of sawdust and fun and circus in town. That's all. Just that.
Sometimes, it's not so great to watch them grow up a little bit. Sometimes, you see a little something in their eyes go out, something to do with magic, gypsies, tigers and glitter. As a parent? That's not so great a feeling. So I hope that I can raise her to work for what she believes in, but with reason and compassion for the people around her as well as for her causes.