Jewish World Review May 12, 2009 / 18 Iyar 5769
Parents, enjoy this time, in all its creepiness
By John Kass
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | For the parents of young children, spring is supposed to be a joyful season, a time of parties, weddings and other celebrations.
Unfortunately, it's also a time of pressure for parents of young children. Pressure to provide dazzling entertainment for the tykes at parties, so parents can sit down and eat for five minutes in relative peace.
So this is the time when parents are reintroduced to something they dimly remember from their own childhood: the awesome hierarchy of creepiness.
First comes the creepy clown. It's not the makeup that frightens children, but the personality underneath the makeup, which usually masks a deranged, maladjusted adult. That's followed by the creepy magician, the creepy pony ride guy and, for ultimate terror, the expressions on parents' faces as they watch their little ones venturing into The Lord of the Flies Inflatable Jumping Contraption.
"There's just so much pressure," said a young mom I know, who recently christened her second child and had a creepy magician at the luncheon, because they had to have something and her cousin had already had the creepy clown. "Our magician was, well ... OK, it was creepy."
Sometimes, chateaubriand is not enough.
A week earlier, the creepy clown was a middle-age guy filling up balloons and twisting them into shapes. The boys got balloon swords, and the girls got creatures that resembled bloodthirsty insects.
Here, he said, take it. Here, take it, he said, absently, tired, a drone, probably concentrating on something else, like how he sold his soul to Satan.
The clown had a mustache that was painted over with red, evoking a pre-Columbian death mask. The kids will have nightmares for years to come.
"He looked like a tired bartender with a hangover," said one dad. "His name should have been Lou."
Lou the Clown. Make us laugh, Lou.
Only a few years ago, my wife and I were as crazy as other parents of little ones. But we've since graduated into an undiscovered country, when our twin boys began swimming upstream and announced to their mother at breakfast that the trashy peroxide blond
But for those of you with toddlers and kindergartners, you've got plenty of time before some trashy
This is your time, the age of innocence, the age of the creepy clowns. And the magicians, men with feral, glittery eyes and slicked hair like used-car salesmen, drunk with power, pulling paper flowers from a child's ear.
Magicians are like their cousins, necromancers and politicians, each determined to trick the unsuspecting.
And those inflatable "Jumping Jacks" on your lawn, the little children having fun, bouncing happily in the big balloon, until some 11-year-old hockey player jumps in, elbows flailing, just about to body check your toddler.
"Oh, but can't we just let kids be kids?" say the hockey player's parents as your 2-year-old flies into the netting upside down, with a silent cry because the wind has just been knocked out of him.
Your child stares, gasping like some goldfish on the floor, stunned by the body check, yet able to speak to you, eloquently with his eyes:
"Why mommy? Why did you betray me? Why?"
As you rationalize this first betrayal of the flesh of your flesh, you tell yourself your child will forget.
But you know he won't. Neither will you. Ever.
Also, there are the pony rides. Hello, big-headed pony. Evil pony.
The children stare as it snorts on your lawn, stumpy-legged, a malevolent chess piece with big yellow teeth and horseflies on its behind.
A carny holds the pony on a thick rope in anticipation it will try to bite off some child's face. He keeps chewing tobacco, spitting into a paper cup, his teeth as yellow as his four-legged face-biting equine minion, checking out the attractive moms.
Your wife looks at you, exhausted, and you realize that all the parents are exhausted too, because each is anticipating a kid's face being bitten off, and everyone hopes the victim won't belong to them.
Even if the raging beast doesn't bite your neighbor's kid's face, it stops in mid "canter" to deposit its steaming legacy on the grass, at which point a clot of toddlers runs toward the mound and grabs it as if it were Play-Doh.
Ah, the joys that belong only to young parents, especially moms, since they're the ones who end up doing most of the kid cleaning. The dads get to shovel what the pony left behind.
"Actually, in the creepiness scale, mimes are creepier," insisted a colleague. "Then clowns. Then magicians."
And just when you think you're done, here comes
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John Kass is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. Comments by clicking here.
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