When I was a kid, I loved les manèges, these old carousels dotting most French cities. There was one in front of the Monoprix where my mum shopped and I often asked to ride a wooden horse or spin in a tea cup. Most had a theme: aircraft and spacecraft, retro wooden horses, animals, etc. Halfway through the ride, there was the “queue à attraper”: the owner would swing a stuffed animal above the kids’ heads and whoever managed to grab the tail of the animal would get a free spin. Meanwhile, mothers would wait on the side and occasionally get hit on by the carousel’s owner (because after all, this is France).
I introduced Mark to carousels when he was a baby, during our first trip to France. He didn’t mind, I was holding him anyway because he was too young to ride alone. Last year, I thought he would ask to go again, and I offered many times, but he seemed to be scared. Just getting him to sit in a small car or on a horse would make him cry, and that was before the ride even started. I rode with him a couple of times but I got sick of it—carousels are supposed to be a fun treat, there was no point in “forcing” Mark to go.
This year, the first time we walked by the carousel, Mark asked for a ride. “Are you sure?” I asked. “I’m not going with you, I’m standing on the side.” “Not scared.”
We took a short walk around the block but Mark seemed determined. He wanted to ride the chopper.
And so he went. He did take a few deep breaths when he realized there was no way I would squeeze into the chopper to sit beside him, but he didn’t cry.
The second time, a couple of days later, once again, he swore he wasn’t scared and he enjoyed the ride.
One fear conquered.
Fear is a healthy feeling. It prevents us from doing stupid stuff and it helps us learn about ourselves, our strengths and weaknesses. It encourages us to seek help, comfort, and guidance. Fear makes us feel our humanity.
One small fear I conquered this trip, my regular visit to the dentist. I don’t mind doctors or other healthcare practitioners, I don’t even mind needles or blood tests, but I absolutely hate going to the dentist. It has nothing to do with pain, it’s purely psychological—I feel like I’m losing control when I’m sitting in the dreaded chair. Yet, I force myself to schedule an appointment when I go to France because I trust my dentist and I’d rather not have to worry about anything when I travel or when I’m in Canada. The chore is done… should I buy a merry-go-round ticket as a treat for me now?