Saturday was a day packed with wonder, excitement, and magic. You’d think that getting a yellow belt and going to Playland would be enough excitement for a kid. And it probably would’ve been. But the day didn’t end with leaving Playland.

“Why do we have to go?” was answered with, “We have a surprise. You’ll see. I promise, it’ll be worth it!”

Now I should note, this surprise had me a little edgy. Would we be able to get tickets? Would Cameron be able to handle it?

What was it?

A few weeks ago the eye-catching yellow and blue striped tents went up on the shore of False Creek. Cirque du Soleil was in town with their show Kooza! Now, Cameron’s a little iffy on going to shows. I’ve yet to convince him to remain in a movie theatre for more than five minutes. The concept of people wearing costumes he understands on one level, but he’s still uncertain and hesitant about it – the boundary between real and pretend isn’t as fluid as it used to be, but still lacks clear definition for him. So I tried showing him some Youtube videos of what to expect, with great success! He was glued to the computer, watching dancing skeletons and death-defying demons whirling around on the wheel of death. But then … we went on holiday for a week. Then to Comox. And next weekend Cameron and I head off on another trip. So it was this last weekend, or not at all.

Tickets purchased (I was skeptical as they were back-row, but I still think they were worth it!), we headed towards the big tent. As we waited in line for a pre-show bathroom stop, Cameron looked a little uncertain. “We have to go in there?” The stairs were steep, and beyond … darkness and the unknown. So I got down to his level, and explained, “Remember that video we watched, with the two circles spinning around each other, and two people running inside the wheels,” I asked? Cameron thought a little, then nodded. “And then they were on top of the circles, right?” His tone of voice clearly conveyed and this has to do with right now how? I pointed firmly towards the tent. “THAT is in THERE.” You should’ve seen his face. He leapt in the air and wriggled and danced, shouting, “Really? Really? We’re gonna see that?” Getting him into the tent, and finding our seats was a piece of cake.

Now, when the show first got going, all that excitement was forgotten. A hidden door in the floor of the stage flipped open, and a hideous deep-sea-diver-robot with glowing eyes and mouth reared out! But only for a moment, as the man announcing the beginning of the show stepped on the door to close it.  Cameron was ready to crawl over laps to get the heck out of there. Then the lights went off! I think half the audience heard me assuring him, “Its okay, it’s part of the show, it’s okay, I’m right here, see, there are lights!”

Things improved vastly after that, as the magic of the show took over. The slower parts didn’t really keep Cameron’s attention much, but he had plenty of questions. He wanted to figure out how they did everything, finding wires and looking for where lights were coming from. He pointed out a man up high working a spotlight. He found the dual-wheel-thing up high on the ceiling. Funniest “how does it work” question went towards the contortionist. He’d asked, “What is that,” as she came out, all twisted up.  Then, “That’s not a real person, is it Mommy? People just don’t do that.” Kate’s voice piped up beside him, “She must’ve done lots of gymnastics,” she observed.

Throughout the show, glances at both kids (and probably Leif and myself too), showed them entranced, amazed, and filled with wonder. We saw dancers tossing each other high, tightwire walkers skipping rope and riding bicycles, even balancing on a chair suspended between two bikes! A man carefully balanced on an intricate tower he built from chairs. Cameron’s daycare will likely not appreciate his discovery of another use of teeter totters – launching people end-over-end into the air! A woman soared through the air on a trapeze, doing flips and spins. A woman disappeared, a clown climbed into a too-small suitcase, a man climbed out of it, a cannon shot streamers and confetti into the crowd.

And yes. We saw the Wheel of Death. This was the rock-star performance of the show. I so wish we’d been allowed to film – I wouldn’t have been filming the show, but the expression, the joy and excitement, in Kate and Cameron.

Oddly enough, when asked what his favourite part of the show was, do you think it was the wheel of death? Of course not. “The robot that looked like a deep sea diver,” he’ll say. But then, in a confiding tone, “It kept popping up, it was reallycool! But I think it was just a person, dressed in a costume.”


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