Hello. I work in a circus. I am a clown. My name is Amigo. Funny name? Well, it means ‘friend’. You can think of me as your friend. I have been working in the circus since I was five years old. My parents owned the circus. My father was a ring master and my mother rode the beautiful white ponies. She was an acrobat too. When I came along my parents used to put me in the pram at the edge of the ring while they did the show. When I could I used to sit up and watch them perform. As soon as I was old enough I started to learn how to make people laugh. I loved to hear the audience laugh at our clowns in the circus. I loved to see people smile and clap their hands. I would clap my hands too and bounce up and down in my pram. As I got a bit older, maybe two years old, I looked round at the audience and I noticed that some of them were watching me bouncing up and down, laughing and clapping my hands. They would smile even more when they saw me enjoying myself. I started to play a game with the people nearby. I would throw my rag doll out of the pram, someone would fetch it for me and I would smack it and then hug it tightly to my chest. People would laugh so I would do it all over again.
My parents realized that the audience loved seeing such a young child doing funny things so they included me in on one of their acts. Even though I was very small, I could make people laugh. There was a bit of a problem though, which was that I didn’t know when to stop! I liked the laughter so much that I wanted it to go on and on. Then people got fed up and bored and looked away. That really used to upset me, when people stopped paying attention to me and started looking at someone else. I used to get cross and start to cry. Well, you can’t have a crying child in the big top now, can you? So my father decided to solve the problem by making a big thing of me for just a couple of minutes and while everyone was still laughing I was taken away from the ring before I had started to cry and sulk.
As I got older I learnt that it’s good to make people laugh but that other people need attention too; perhaps they want to make people laugh or perhaps they just want someone to listen to what they have to say. I learnt to let other people have a say too. I learnt to listen to what they had to say.
By the time I was five I could ride the ponies quite well. That is unusual in the ordinary world. Girls of five do not do that. Ah! You thought I was a boy? Well I dress up as a clown and paint my face and wear a silly hat. I try to walk like a man so they all think I am a man. I don’t speak in my act, I just do surprising things which make people laugh and which usually make me look silly. Sometimes I do things which make the other clowns look silly, but they don’t mind me teasing them, it’s all part of the act.
I am careful when I am not being a clown not to tease and annoy people. I can pretend to sulk when I am in the ring, but nobody in the real world wants a teasing, sulking friend. If you do it just occasionally it’s OK but if you do it a lot people get really fed up. I had a friend like that once. She was always teasing me, always pretending this or that, and when I got cross she’d say, ‘I was only winding you up, can’t you take a joke?’ Then she’d go off and sulk and would not speak to me. I told my parents about her and they said:
“Why bother with her if she can’t be a good friend?”
It was a shame as she was the same age as me and we could have had a good time playing. But she would not change, so I didn’t bother with her any more. In the circus we have to try to get on with everyone. People have to make an effort not to be selfish and to work as a team.
I hope I shall be in my circus team for a good long time.
Ooops, sorry, did I just stand on your toes? I didn’t mean to honestly…
Does the story remind you of anything in your life?
When people stop paying attention to you, what do you do?
What do you do to get attention.
Is that OK? Would it be a good thing if everyone did that?
Do you ever sulk, if so can you think of a better way of dealing with the problem?
Do you tease people? Does it annoy them?
Do people tease you? How does it make you feel?
Can you tell the difference between ‘fun teasing’, when everyone can laugh, and unkind or annoying teasing, when someone gets fed up or angry?
Can teasing be like bullying sometimes? Do you ever do that, if so do you like it when someone does it to you?
Does your answer help you to see that we should not do things to people that we don’t like being done to ourselves?