This morning, my son will sleep in, knowing that he has done well by the family tradition. He comes from a long line of performers, at least two generations, and last Saturday he got up and did us all proud. Under the big top. In the center ring. The roar of the greasepaint. The smell of the crowd. For seven minutes, he was in the circus.
From the time he was very small, I have referred to my son affectionately as "Circus McGurkus," after the Dr. Seuss book "If I Ran The Circus." If you are unfamiliar with the story, a young boy imagines what it would be like to put on a show in old man Sneelock's vacant lot. The kid has Sneelock do most of the dangerous stuff, but after all, he's running the show. I think this story stuck with him, and it's the reason why he decided to join me on stage back when I was the Master of Ceremonies at his school's yearly talent show. I believe it's why he has continued to find ways to perform feats of relative daring and skill.
Not that his mother was without influence. She's the one who signed him up for eight weeks of circus training in the first place. She liked to tell people that it was because our son is on the cusp of "aging out" of pre-teen activities and she wanted him to take full advantage of all the opportunities he could before turning thirteen. It might also have something to do with the onstage personae that she has maintained for so many years herself: Tangerine the lounge singer, or Miss Art Deco, or the local poet and storyteller. My wife is not one to duck the spotlight once it is squarely upon her.
But my son didn't have to choose that path. He can say "no." He often does. But when it comes to getting up in front of a crowd of people and doing ball tricks and spinning plates, he's raring to go. I have no idea if he will get back on stilts or start spinning the family Fiestaware any time soon. I suspect that he will bide his time and wait for his next big shot. His shot at the center ring.