A Kite and a Lesson About Loss

Quite often when Caroline would come to the boat it would be windy and she would say, “It’s windy.  It’s a good day to fly a kite.”  She’s only 3, so it didn’t quite come out like that, but pretty close.

Needless to say we were without a kite.  We went kite shopping one day and finally wound up in Galveston at one of the novelty stores.  They had a cheap princess kite.  We got it and quickly discovered that it was very difficult to get it to fly.

This experience reminded me of my days as a kid trying to fly kites.  We had to try to make our own.  We used old brown paper grocery bags or newspaper, white Elmer’s glue, wooden sticks from Dad’s wood shop for the frame, and some nylon string that I know now was entirely too heavy.  They usually turned out a flop and rarely got off the ground for more than a few seconds.  It was always frustrating.

And that’s how Caroline felt:  frustrated with the princess kite.  Her interest waned as multiple attempts to get it in the air failed until she finally just gave up and throwing rocks in the water became more important.  This sequence of events repeated itself several more times on subsequent days.

We decided that the thing to do was get a nice kite.  One that would fly.  I found one from Into the Wind Kites.  Their Classic Hata got really good reviews and it wasn’t too pricey, relatively speaking.  It was one of her Christmas presents.

This kite was everything a kite is supposed to be.  Traditional, super simple, elegant, and spectacularly easy to get in the air.  No frustrations here.  Insert the frame rod, attach the tails, hold up, let go, and watch it sail up.  That’s exactly how easy it was . . . each and every time.  The only time Caroline lost interest was when she just simply got tired of flying it.

This past Sunday was another great day for kite flying.  The temperature was just right.  The wind was perfect and there was not a cloud in the sky.  We launched the kite and Caroline walked along with it letting out a little string allowing it to fly higher and higher.

I was always nervous about her letting go of the string holder and the kite flying off.  I explained patiently to her that she must hold it tightly and not let go, because if she did the kite would take off and we would not be able to get it back.  “I know. I know,” she would say.

She was flying the kite and we had walked all the way to the end of the marina where she proceeded to squat and start picking flowers with one hand while the other held the kite.

“Would you like to me hold the kite for you while you pick flowers,” I asked.

“No.  I have it.  I’ll pick flowers,” she said.

And not more than a few seconds after that, her little fingers slowly uncurled from the handle as they instinctively wanted to join in the flower picking.

“OH NO!” I exclaimed and at that moment she realized what had happened.  We watched helplessly as the handle was bounced across the water and the little kite showed us just how well it could fly on its own.

Caroline began crying, “Get it!  Get it!”

“I can’t sweetie.  It’s flying across the water.”  I was secretly hoping that the kite wouldn’t fly so well now and would fall into the water so I could possibly go retrieve it with the dinghy.  This didn’t happen.  It kept flying farther and farther away in an attempt to impress us.  It was succeeding.  I was sad and at the same time awed as it kept going.

“I’m sorry for letting go.  I’m sorry,” Caroline sobbed over and over.  The kite was still flying high.

“It’s OK.  Look at how well it’s flying.  It’s going and going.  Maybe the kite will land in some other kid’s yard that doesn’t have a kite.  Then they will have an awesome kite just like you did,”  I said.

“Yeah,” she replied.

We watched the kite for what seemed like forever.  It was probably only a minute or two.  Relativity explained perfectly.  It disappeared behind one of the marina mansions many hundreds of yards away.  We never saw it reappear.  I thought that maybe it had snagged and fallen and I would be able to retrieve it.  We went back to Emet.  I launched the dinghy and went looking for it.  I never did find it.

Caroline was at least satisfied that I had tried.  I was, too.

We ordered another kite.  I will put a safety tether on this one.

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