The Kite Bummer

“Little Boy”– Kind Of An Unfortunate Name

Recently, my son, Essej and my daughter-in-law, Fets, came with my grandkids to spend a weekend with me in the country. Julian, Levi and Skye are 7, 5 and 3, respectively; at least for a while. The two year differences in their ages is great for me because it’s both easy to remember and also easy to transmit the information if someone asks, “How old are they”.  Remembering all of the birth dates is another matter altogether but has the benefit of requiring me to use some brain cells that I ordinarily keep in cold storage.

Knowing that the kids were coming, I decided to do something grandfatherly—I bought some kites on Amazon, one for each of them. Different colors. I had a Norman Rockwellesque fantasy of them lined up, each flying his/her own kite while occasionally looking in my direction and thanking me for such a treat.  Well . . . this was, at a minimum, magical thinking.

I unpacked the first kite and took it out to my yard to begin the festivities.  But, although it seemed breezy enough, the damned thing wouldn’t go up.  Essej and I took turns running around trying to get it airborne.  No luck.  This went on for much of the weekend.  Apparently, the kite was fly-resistant. And then it hit me — the kites were each shaped and decorated to look like an octopus.  Or maybe a squid. Well, whatever it was, neither of those animals fly. In fact, they do the exact opposite. It’s as if I had taken the kids fishing and all the rod reels had been painted with pictures of birds. Totally wrong. I bet I could get those to fly.

For as long as I can remember I’ve had a fascination with watching kites fly. When I’m in Prospect Park and I see someone flying a kite, I’ll always spend some time watching.  There’s just something so innocent and pure about the sight of an object floating in the sky, powered by nothing other than nature. When I was a kid, my older brother, Evets and I would occasionally go to Marine Park to fly a kite that we would buy at the local candy store. The kite, a Hi-Flier, was made of paper and came with wooden cross pieces that my brother would assemble. We’d bring some torn rags and tie them together to make the tail for the kite.

Evets was in charge and, as usual, I was his assistant.  Which meant that I’d only occasionally get a chance to do the flying.  My favorite part was when we’d attach a leaf or a piece of paper and watch it miraculously work its way up the string to the kite that was hundreds of feet in the air. I don’t know how long we’d stay in the park but at some point, it would be time to go home. Imagine — two freckle-faced boys tramping home with their kite. Probably to do some chores or maybe prepare for our paper routes the next morning.  So much like . . . like . . . well, like a Norman Rockwell painting.

Truthfully, that’s a fantasy; neither my brother or I have or had freckles. No paper routes either. But as the narrator in The Sun Also Rises asks at the end of the book, “Isn’t it pretty to think so?”




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4 Responses to “The Kite Bummer”

  1. Richard Says:

    I ran myself ragged, not too long ago, trying to fly a kite for my granddaughter (whose age escapes me) on an almost windless day, hoping against hope I could catch a bit of a breeze. No luck. Felt silly. Strangers were watching the silly spectacle.

  2. iron(ic)man triathlon Says:

    I wish I had been there. By the way, your granddaughter is four.

  3. Christie Says:

    Nice piece, Neil! I still read your work sometimes so glad I’m on your email list… hope you’re well.

    • iron(ic)man triathlon Says:

      Hi Christie…

      A blast from the past! Hope you’ve been well. You’re still writing, aren’t you?

      I got a nice note from Madge a few months back. (that’s the class we were in together….right?)

      Thanks for the kind words.

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