As we drove towards the pier, it was the Ferris wheel that caught the Bean’s attention.
"Can we ride that?” he asked enthusiastically.
We looked up. The Ferris wheel spun lackadaisically in the sun, it’s peak offering majestic views of the surrounding beach.
“I’m not going on that thing,” scoffed my dad. My parents were visiting for the weekend, which is why we were at the pier in the first place.
“Don’t look at me,” offered my mom.
WonderWife™ was certainly out of the equation. I knew this, having learned before we got married that her threshold for amusement park rides does not stretch much beyond Fantasyland.
That left me. Except that I’m afraid of heights.
“Sure buddy,” I replied to the Bean. “We can ride that.”
One of the things that is really important to me about being a parent is working to put aside my personal fears for the sake of my kids. Fears are learned behaviors. Kids are largely blank slates until we impose our phobias on them. My dad is afraid of heights, therefore I too learned from him to be afraid. I don’t want my kids to know about my fears. They should not inherit from me the sweaty palms and rapid heartbeat that goes along with the thought of riding a chair-lift or a Ferris wheel. I had no choice. My son wanted to ride the Ferris wheel and the rest of my family was too chicken to take him. It was up to me.
We strode up to the ride, waited in line and boarded the compartment. All the while my family stood on the boardwalk, watching and thinking to themselves, “thank God it isn’t me going up there.” The wheel began to turn.
A Ferris wheel is one of the worst kinds of heights—a leisurely ride nine stories up in an open-air compartment. As we began to rise, I instinctually put my arm around the Bean. He probably thought it was a sign of affection. But the truth was, for the next 10 minutes, he was my security blanket.
Eons passed before we were back on the ground. The Bean loved every minute of his ride. And not for one moment did he realize that I was terrified the entire time.