We had the opportunity to attend the Ringling Brothers Circus this week. But, we had to redeem our library "tickets" for real circus tickets at the box office downtown.
I've never been to the circus and this seemed like an opportune time to take our family. All of our children could go to the circus for free after reading five books and having their library "ticket" stamped. I'm pretty sure we couldn't go any cheaper as a family. And yet, it required a lot of me.
I had to drive our big van downtown after our Bible study on Wednesday. I've never driven it downtown before. I had never been to the Coliseum before, so I was relying on google directions and my copilot (R, 9). Of course, G (3 mo) was crying the entire drive. This little excursion involved toll roads, one way streets, a circular drive with cars parked along it, and parking garages that scared me. (I've recently heard stories of friends' friends' big vans that had the tops destroyed by trying to enter average height parking garages.) The picture in my mind is quite real and enough to make me sweat my calculations. "Boys!" I exclaimed. "Seven feet is eighty-four inches, right?!" (And why are the signs given in inches?!)
Once the Coliseum was in our sights, we pulled into the circular drive in front of the box office signs. We were promptly approached by a gentleman with quite an animated story of "this, the worst day." After several minutes of his tale, I gave him $2- the only cash in my wallet. (And how was I going to pay the tolls on the way home? I wondered too late!) "Mom? What was that about?" my co-pilot queried. "I have NO idea." I said.
We then proceeded around the circle, one inch at a time as I willed our van to just suck it in a little bit so I could squeeze through the poorly parked cars and the rather steep looking curb. "Boys!" I called again. "Look out there! Am I going to hit that taxi? Are you SURE? Can you really SEE?"
No luck parking in the circle. The big boys were unwilling to hop out and run over to the box office to get the tickets for us. (And really? I'm going to send my 11 and 9 year old boys to a box office in downtown Richmond where we now know there are drunken, sketchy figures about? Send them with money? What would I do if they needed me? Leave the crying baby in the van, that's for sure.)
Around the block we went again, looking in vain for parking. We couldn't spy anywhere for a 12 passenger van. . . but we did see our gentleman friend hurriedly crossing the street (with a rather guilty look, I may add).
I was feeling a bit desperate, so we attempted the circular drive again. (I'm crazy!) Somehow a big van had gotten in there, in a perfect end spot. We waited a few minutes for that lovely space, but the kids grew impatient with that idea.
Around the block again. This time (duh!), we prayed for the Lord to help us. When we don't know what to do, our eyes look to the Lord. I did NOT know what to do- or where to park in order to do what I wanted to do.
I eyed the parking garage again- did I mention it had a "Sorry- FULL" sign in front of it anyway? I drove slowly. And. . . there was a bit of space in front of the parking garage that wouldn't require parallel parking. But, it wasn't much space. I parked, then got out to walk around the van to surmise if I looked legitimate enough to leave the van there. At that exact moment, a friendly and clean-looking man returned to his red vehicle, parked in front of me. He was leaving just then and so I had plenty of room (which is just like God, to give us MORE than we need!).
I took half a dozen kids across the street to the Coliseum box office. One of them was screaming and one was whining and one said he needed a bathroom.
At the box office, I stated that I wanted 5 free children's tickets and 2 adult tickets for Friday night. I tried to manage my children while the nice box office lady prepared our tickets. "Here you go," she smiled to M (2), who had climbed up the brick wall to peer in the window at her. "Have fun at the circus tomorrow."
"Tomorrow?" I questioned. Not tomorrow!
So... she changed the tickets for us. She passed the new tickets out to M. Even though I wanted to make a mad dash back to the van (where my children could whine and cry in private), I calmly opened the envelope and counted the tickets. Only 6. We were short one.
So . . . she gave me the missing ticket and we went back to the van, which I noticed was ALSO conveniently parked in front of a storm drain. O (11) had settled the crying baby. I was carrying the tired 2 year old, and the 5 year old used the storm drain. We had plenty of room to back up. We easily found our way back to the road home. I remembered $5 in a cash envelope in my bag. . .
And so all ended well. And really, it was worth it. My children saw that we sometimes do hard, uncomfortable things for the people we love. And we ask God for help and talk to Him all the time because He cares about us and can work everything out for His glory. And we can laugh at ourselves and also enjoy this crazy life.
We also enjoyed the circus on Friday night very much.