One of the great joys a parent can have this time of year is not to go to the circus. This is not easy to do, but with proper thought and advance planning, it may just be possible for a lucky few.

It begins weeks in advance of the arrival of the circus to town, with the arrival of the circus promoters in town. The children will be deluged with information, which they will then pass on, the experienced ones nothing dates and ticket prices.

The adult's response to this one is, naturally, "But I just took you to the circus." In adult terms, this is perfectly true. Once every 10 years is the proper interval for an adult to attend a circus, and to have a charming time of it, reminiscing, eating colored sugar, happily shrieking and pointing when appropriate. The problem is that the circus now comes once and sometimes even twice a year.

Children consider this a tremandous lapse of time. Considerable prompting is required to recall to them the happy moments of the previous fall. "Don't you remember when you got sick and we couldn't find a bathroom?" "Oh, you remember the time the clown took you by the hand and you burst out crying, don't you?" "The place that smelled so bad an you said you couldn't see and you thought the people were going to fall and kill themselves - that was the circus!"

The response will finally be, "Now, I remember! can't we go again?"

There's usually no use trying to wait them out and then convince them that it's been sold out. They keep up with the ticket situation with tremendous exactitude, apparently through messages in their air at a pitch which can only be heard by people under four feet high.

You might try claiming that it's probably all done with electronics now, that they don't have "real" circuses the way they used to, under tents and with full auxilliary shows exploiting the handicapped, but that may just convince the child that he'd really rather see something on a big screen, anyway.

And that is the key. Promise him that instead of a big, real-life show, with live animals and talented people performing incredible fears, you'll see if you can find him a television show about the making of a movie about the people behind the scenes at a circus. Maybe you'll even be able to find one, and they you can make the cultural point afterwards to the child that there's no great, wholesome, honest, lively entertainment left in the modern world.