Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Trips We Have Skipped

As a parent, I have found that you often resort to trying to replay large sections of your own youth out through your children. Much to the chagrin of those children. Don't like Christmas lights? Too bad. That's how I grew up. Don't care for spectator sports? Too bad. My house, my rules. I know how much you're going to enjoy this because you are spawn of me and how could you not like Lucky Charms?
Then again, there are certain things that were common place occurrences in my childhood to which I have never exposed my son. Specifically: Rodeos and Circuses. Growing up in Colorado, there were plenty of opportunities to check out the ropin' and ridin' talents of all manner of cowpokes. There was the annual Little Britches Rodeo, which was the training ground for all the buckaroos who weren't content with the action in the 4H club. Since I was a kid, Little Britches has moved down the road. Not unlike the very enlightened Bay Area, Boulder is not the place you'd expect to see broncos busted and cows punched in 2013. That would be too cruel. Over in Longmont, however, I guess you might expect such inhumanity.
The National Western Stock Show was never in Boulder. It was a yearly pilgrimage made by my family in our station wagon very much along the lines of our annual pilgrimages to the big city to see the Christmas lights. The Mile High City continues to host what they refer to as "the Super Bowl of rodeos." We went to see all the prize-winning livestock in their pens, but we stayed to see some of those same animals try to toss and hurl young men off their backs and stomp them underfoot. Hindsight tells me, of course, that these guys totally had it coming to them, since that's all I would expect from a bull that had been poked and prodded and tortured for weeks leading up to those eight seconds of release. Rather than take my son to such an exhibition, I would much rather wait until he is ready to hear the ugly truth about such "competitions." Like when he's twenty-five.
Another family adventure that I made a point of shielding from my son was Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey and anybody else who saw fit to train animals with sticks and hooks so that they could be further antagonized and humiliated for our delight. One of my son's favorite movies as a small person was Dumbo. His fascination with the flying elephant was based more on Casey Junior, the circus train, but he became familiar with the themes of bullying and cruelty through repeated viewings. It made him sad to see how they treated Dumbo's mother, and since there is no mention of Mister Jumbo outside of the inference that his mother is Missus Jumbo, as his the dad in this equation I felt nervous about what horrid Disney fate must have been his.
No circus. No rodeo. No fun? I guess we'll have to wait and see what he drags his kids to.

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