Fighting “Ganashes”, One At The Time

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He isn't afraid of sugar, for sure!

He isn’t afraid of sugar, for sure!

So far, Mark has three phobias.

First, the doctor’s office. This started when he was about nine months old. Before, he didn’t care much about being weighed, measured and getting his shots. Now, it’s epic. He is fine in the waiting room but as soon as I march him into the office, he tries to run away and screams on top of his lungs until the doctor declares him healthy (and loud). He doesn’t even care that much about the shots—it’s the atmosphere, I guess. Mind you, I wouldn’t want be naked around a bunch of strange people I don’t know either, unless I am getting paid for the stunt.

Second is getting a haircut. We had an awful experience at Chiquicuts a few months ago and now he hates hair salons. He had one cut since and I warned the stylist that he was going to scream, even with his beloved pacifier in his mouth. Fortunately, she was great. She worked fast and had a soothing voice so he was actually able to get the much-needed cut.

Finally, Mark is terrified of “ganashes”.

What are “ganashes”?

Well, I’m glad you asked, because I don’t have a clue.

All I can tell you is that we apparently have some in the bathroom.

Mark has never liked bathtubs or shower cabins. He was fine when was bathed him in the sink and he didn’t mind the plastic baby bathtub. Unfortunately, he outgrew both and putting hi in the washing-machine is not an option. I had to use the bathtub. It took me weeks to convince him to get in it and to finally have him enjoy bath time, something all babies apparently love. It’s not the water, it really is being in an enclosed space.

And that’s just our bathtub he was okay with. Hotels, my parents’ place… we had to start all over again, screaming, fighting, eventually giving up and sobbing until I wrap him in his towel.

Well, two days ago, completely out of the blue, he started screaming “ganash, ganash!” and tried to climb out of the bathtub. Again, screaming, fighting to get out, etc. I chalked it out on him being tired.

The following day, same thing. He was fine in his room, he was okay with taking off his clothes, but as soon as I told him to take his diaper off, he understood it was bath time, not eh-let’s-change-clothes-for-no-reason-time.

He refused to even step into the bathroom and screamed “ganash!”

Now, I respect fears and phobias but cleaning is not negotiable. It took both Feng and I to shower him and it was not a pleasant experience.

Today, I tried again. We did the usual taking-off-the-clothes routine and again, he understood it was bath time and sat there, on the carpet, refusing to take off his diaper, as if it was going to protect him from his impending doom.

I sat down with him.

“Mark… come on, let’s take a bath. It’s okay. There is nothing to be afraid of.”

“Ganash,” he said gravely.

“Mei you,” I replied in Chinese. “No ganash.”

“Ganash,” he insisted, as if I was simply a bit slow.

It was surrealistic but quite funny actually.

My best guess is that he is scared of… birds. We have a bird nest close to a vent, outside the bathroom, and you can hear birds chirping—but you can’t see them. This bathroom doesn’t have a window.

Mark isn’t scared of birds (he chases them) and he knows the sound they make. And I have no idea why “birds” are “ganash”—“birds” in English, “oiseaux” in French, “Niǎo” in Chinese… nothing sounds like “ganash” and these are the only three languages he is exposed to.

Oh well. I’ll fight “ganash”, one at the time, until Mark is no longer scared of the bathroom. The things you do for your kid…


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. Poor Mark! It is horrid to feel scared of something. I used to have so many phobias – I used to think there was a evil scarecrow in the garden and every morning I made mom check it wasn’t there before I would get out of bed. Another one I had was of airplanes dumping water on the house and drowning us. So terrifying. I am sure it is just a lack of understanding about something and that you will help Mark to get over it!

  2. Have you got a small inflatable pool to give him a bath in the kitchen to expand the bathing space? It’s probably super messy, though. The inflatable in the backyard in summertime is so much fun. Water guns, the water hose combined with the slip-n-slide and the inflatable pool in the backyard were our favourite memories (Winnipeg is unbearably hot and humid in the summer), but with three of us we outgrew it very quickly.

  3. …I had to google ganash. Really – did you know it’s some sort of melted chocolate chip with whipping cream? I can only imagine a big melting chocolate monster…. 🙂 Poor Mark, I hope he’ll get over his phobia!

  4. Either he was a Ganesh worshipper in a former life (but I can’t see why the elephant who removes obstacle would frigntened him) or he is afraid of french pastries. In the later case, I would ask for a refund at the “SAV des bébés”.
    Courage! 🙂

  5. Martin Penwald on

    > he out­grew both and putting him in the washing-machine is not an option.

    Sure ? In a few monthes, it will become an acceptable option.

  6. Haircut ! office doctor too… (he loves waiting room, love walking half of the stairs and start screaming when he sees the purple nurse door. Impossible to manage until we go down after weight size vaccins… and the third one is…. no it is not bathtub for us !!!! but : elevators (we have none in dakar but since we arrive in france, being stucked in a metal box that goes up or down makes him really unconfortable). I figured out that it could be much worse (fearing elevator is better than bathtub, isn’t it ?!) and I’m pretty ok with his little phobias.

  7. I don’t remember being particularly scared of anything as a child (and my mom has always said I have never had big phobias during my childhood), but my younger brother used to be terrified by…churches! I don’t know if it was because of the smell of incense, the silence and echo or the darkness that many old churches have in Italy, but he started to scream as soon as we wanted to enter in a church. Someone had to wait outside with him, otherwise he was screaming his lungs out so much that people were staring at us (Italian toddler police perhaps?) as if we were trying to kill him!

    • That’s funny! I can understand actually, like you said, the smell, the darkness (the light is pretty dim in most churches), the solemn aspect of worhsip places… Mark is the opposite: he loves churches and always want to visit them. Which is funny since we are not religious!

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