She wanted to go on the Ferris Wheel, so I said, "Yes!" In that moment, I forgot that I was a coward. (Things I am terrified of: heights, going around in circles, man-eating sharks, cats, earthquakes).
There were no sharks in evidence, so I thought it would be OK.
Her enthusiasm was pop rocks, tiny explosions of joy. The Ferris wheel! I felt like a better mother for saying that I'd take her. I insisted on taking her. I was that good.
She wriggled in delight. The bar clamped shut over our laps.
The wheel began to turn.
"Don't fall," I said in my head. "Please don't fall." It wasn't really praying, but it was close enough.
There was an airshow going on and I could hear the rush and roar of the helicopter's engines swooping by as I watched my hands, clenched around the bar like a bird's claws. I didn't dare blink because if I did, I wouldn't see my hands, holding on. And if I couldn't see them, maybe they would let go and I would fall, like those boys I saw at the PNE in 1979, flightless birds crashing to the unforgiving ground below.
The Birdy squealed and squirmed, her wings folded patiently behind her, waiting for her opportunity to fly.
Then it was over.
"Can we go again?" she said.
"No WAY," I said. "Ask me next year."
"You'll be bigger then," she said, knowingly. "You won't be scared again."
"Probably not," I said. "Next year I'll be brave."