So we all know that popular phrase, not my circus, not my monkeys? Yeah, well, I can’t say that. As a mother of toddler twin boys, I have my own little Barnum and Bailey reality show right under my feet – literally right under my feet – every single day.  So step right up! (But watch your step, please.) Come on in! I’ll give you a grand tour of our crazy, snack-filled, action-packed circus under the glaring lights and the colorful crowds of our Friday nights.

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And by the way, tonight may bear witness to one of the most exciting, most daring, most challenging of all Friday nights. The Canes are on the road for Round Three of our bid for the State Title!

So, nope, our circus won’t happen out there on the football field. Our circus takes place up there in the stands. Up in one tiny, little corner of the stands. Where — if you zoom in tight — you’ll see the disheveled circus trainer as her two little, manic monkeys jump – no, rephrase — pound on her one and only final surviving nerve…

But before the show begins… a little backstory. The Cartersville Purple Hurricanes are travelling to Woodward Academy. It’ll be a tough match up – one that experts claim is worthy of a final match up, rather than the quarterfinal game that it actually is. Both teams have skills for days and Division 1 prospects coming out the wazoo.  Both programs have coaching staffs who know the science of  football, who have solid schemes, firm discipline, and good, old-fashioned love of the game and love for their boys.  This game’s going to be one for the history books, folks.

Which means this sideshow ringleader is already in the process of packing up Mike’s truck like a travelling circus on a long-distance tour.  I’ve got the Radio Flyer wagon loaded up in the bed already – there’s no telling how far we’ll have to navigate from visitor’s parking to stadium steps and walking in crowds with my boys – well, I’d rather swallow flames or lie on a bed of nails. It is a hazardous, torturous affair. They shuffle and shy away from each “Hello” or welcoming smile they receive. And, as twins, they get lots of them. They’re like my own little private set of circus freaks. Folks gather ‘round them and stare and point and wait for a sideshow. But the boys don’t oblige. No tricks, no performance, not even a wave. All they want to do is hide behind their mama’s legs and contort themselves in unlikely angles to avoid detection. So, I pile them in their little red wagon, and away we go, bags and blankets and snack packs galore.

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Now the snacks are the most important ingredient in our little circus.  My sideshow freaks need lots and lots of snacks to keep them in prime condition. Their diets are quite precise, and packed oh-so-carefully according dietary needs. And by needs, I mean cravings – primarily sweet tooth cravings, but we’ve got carbs covered, too. There are teddy grahams, and cereal bars, cookies and muffins, goldfish and cheerios, raisins and juice boxes — the only two semi-healthy items in the whole horde. The suckers on the other hand (oops, let me be clear, by suckers, I’m referring to the dum-dums… um, again, let me clarify — the round, candy-flavored confections on a stick, NOT my boys), but the suckers… the dozens and dozens and dozens of suckers I bring, those ensure that I see at least one of every four downs in a series. Because my boys LOVE suckers. And by suckers, this time I’m pretty sure I mean me…

Because no one but a sucker would willingly give two rowdy, sloppy, drooly, toddler boys an unlimited supply of syrup on a stick, knowing full well that her little twin acrobats keep their favorite climbing apparatus with them at all times – namely their MOTHER.  On any given Friday night, one can find them climbing up and over and under and (I’m fairly certain) through my body for the entire duration of a sixty minute football game.  And tonight – with both teams being spread teams, there’s gonna to be a heckuva a lot of passes thrown, and a heckuva a lot of first downs made, and a heckuva lot of stopped clocks, and a heckuva lot of chains moved, and a heckuva lot of kickoffs received, and a heckuva lot longer football game played than the traditional sixty minutes allotted. This sucker’s gonna go on for a good, long while. Einstein’s theory — it’s all relative. So relatively speaking, here, I’m the sucker.

Now every circus comes with music, usually involving some type of prancing, staccato-beat, calliope tune. But not this circus. This one plays Cartersville’s fight song after every touchdown, which is a spot-on rendition of “On Wisconsin,” and which I’m assuming somehow translates into “Purple Hurricanes, Purple Hurricanes something, something, something, something something … “  Maybe?   Feels like there would be a dropped syllable in there somewhere. I’m not quite sure… Anyway, that fight song plays often – seeing as how we’ve averaged forty points a game this year – and then, in between the fight song, Tate belts out his ubiquitous “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” complete with jazz hands. We are truly an eclectic show.

So we’ve got the sideshow freaks, contortionists, circus monkeys, acrobats — all of whom are the same principal characters in our diversely talented ensemble. But of course, there’s one key member I haven’t truly addressed yet.  The Ring Leader.

Every circus has one. At least, that’s what I’ve always observed.  But I must confess that this particular circus ring leader is not necessarily cut out for her job. She seems to have zero control of her monkeys, the staff appears to run over the top of her quite regularly, and I’m not sure, but I’m fairly certain that if you look closely, you’ll find traces of sucker stains on her clothes and in her hair. Which, I guess is better than the muffin that the day care found buried in in one of her little monkey’s heads this week. The director kindly extracted the said blueberry treat, but not before sending a picture and some thinly-veiled laughter in a private message. I am enclosing the picture as evidentiary proof that this ring leader is definitely not up to the challenge of such a daunting and daring occupation.

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Be that as it may… she is still an exuberant supporter of her crazy, careening circus and of her talented, ravishingly handsome coaching husband, as well as an enthusiastic and loud-mouthed Purple Hurricanes fan. Therefore, she’s readied her caravan and she’s geared up for her three-ring, four-quarter circus.

Oh, but she has one sweet feather in her big top hat, her best, bestie is riding shotgun tonight, offering moral support and monkey-training skills. She’s a pro. She teaches sophomores non stop daily. So there’s that.

So I’m the Ring Leader and these ARE my monkeys and this IS my circus. Step right up and come on in! For the greatest show on earth — the Georgia High School 4-A football quarterfinals — oh, and my little, three-ring sideshow.

 

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