At an age when I decidedly know better, I decided not to run away with the circus.
I became one instead.
Father's daze: Keeping up with a 2-year-old is a three-ring juggling act all its own that requires the dexterity of an acrobat with the acumen of a mind-reader.
It is also the greatest show on earth.
For someone who has traveled the world as I have over the decades — including four treasured trips to Australia where every day was a g'day and taking triage from life with trips to the Caribbean — it is the closer-to-home sojourns since taking on parenthood late in life that have hit home with the loudest yet softest of thuds.
As for that circus: I have seen Cirque du Soleil perform in almost every one of their venues under the sun, all over the world. But it was at a performance in Orlando, at Walt Disney World Resort, that it took on special meaning.
Because it was there that I introduced my little Hannah Rose to the bliss of Big Top theater as she sat on my lap, mesmerized, motionless — except for the occasional jaw dropping attendant to the troupe's abracadabra acrobatics — making me see "La Nouba" as a newbie.
Those twirls and tosses they tossed off with such ease and aplomb were miracles of magic that are now forever imprinted in my 2-year-old's imagination.
And having been to Disney World a handful of times when I was childless, claiming, with a childish braggadocio, that it was meant for grown-ups not kids — I now see how wrong I was.
Watching as my Hannah hugged and was hugged by "Mr. Rabbit" — as part of the roving "Alice in Wonderland" characters at the park — I was wowed with how wonderful it is to fall down the rabbit hole of imagination and creativity for the very first time.
Splashing down in the Caribbean takes on a more exotic beat when you really hear — and feel — for the first time music you had earlier learned to tune out. Those omnipresent steel-drum musicians beat a path to my daughter's soul, and suddenly — as she gyrated wildly to their calypso clangs — I realized how Hannah and those drums could steal my heart.
If travels are a whirlwind, where better than on a moveable stage? As a fan of carousels — remembering my very first turn decades ago in Hunting Park in Logan — I now take my tow-headed child to those wherever I can find them, whether they be at the Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia or Six Flags in Jackson, N.J.
"One more, one more," she beseeches me of taking the fancy merry-go-round one more round.
The irony is, with all my travels, I may have found the world's epicenter just a few miles away as we celebrate painted ponies and far-away dreams parading at the carousel which marches back in time at the Willow Grove Mall.
Australia, Caribbean … Willow Grove Mall. All tied together with a string lassoed around my heart by a companion whose sense of traveling music is the "Sesame Street" theme song.
It is a small world after all.