Thursday, March 15, 2007

The most wonderful thing about France

Let me first say that I love the United States. It will always be my true home. Overall, I'm very proud of our freedom and very proud to be an American. But I think, in the United States, we sometimes error too much on the side of caution when it come to avoiding lawsuits. This isn't necessarily any one's fault... it's a combination of businesses willing to cave, lawyers "looking" for clients, and these clients who will sue for just about anything. So, the things that are in life... I mean really fun... sometimes get lost over time because they aren't as safe.

Last weekend, we witnessed something that is one of these fun activities, but is also really dangerous. Of course, this was not in the United States, but here in the land of "anti-lawsuit" France. I have heard on many occasions that judges here routinely throw out lawsuits that are even semi-legitimate, because they don't want to let things get out of hand. It's the "you give them an inch, and they'll take mile" problem that our courts have seen snowball. I've also read editorials where French columnists talk about avoiding malpractice suits, etc. so they don't become like us or the Brits.

So last weekend, we went to the park near the Eiffel Tower. The Love Bug really enjoyed watching the kids play. We saw a carousel and walked over to watch, thinking she would love that too. We were shocked to discover that not only was it an "open" carousel, which means that the horses are only attached above, because below them is the ground. So, once the two barkers get the carousel moving (which is done by hand also), there is nothing between the kids and the fast-moving, knee-scraping ground but a small belt around their waist, which really is also probably hazardous if they fell off and were just hanging. Then, once we started watching, we noticed that the children on the outside horses had sticks and they were trying to catch the rings, just like our carousels used to have years ago.

What fun!

They did away with these in the US because having kids waving sticks around on a carousel was probably not safe. But in France, this custom is alive and well. And it should be. It's just downright fun. This carousel looks about 100 years old and is part of history. Do kids get hurt? I'm sure. Did we witness any injuries? A few minor ones and multiple "oww"s yelled as a kid's stick jammed into the ring box and it jerked their arm back. But if you are reasonably careful, everything should be okay. If we never have anything in children's environments that is unsafe, how will they ever learn to be cautious? If we prevent injury, heartache, and pain, how will the Love Bug and her peers learn to heal?

Horse and wagon ride in the park- so cute!

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