The Kite Runners

We’d been home from our odyssey for a couple of days when the boys remembered they had kites. Their grandparents had brought them kites as souvenirs from a trip to China and said kites languished in the post-trip-rubble in our basement office.

The professor was downstairs with his spawn while I attempted to edit more papers. ‘Can we go to the park and fly our kites?’ I heard our oldest boy-child beg his father. It was a lovely cool summer’s day in Calgary. A cool summer’s day with no discernible wind. So I fully expected the professor to decline the request.

Instead, I heard an awkward pause and a reluctant ‘sure’. And, next thing I knew, I was invited to accompany them to the two-blocks-away park to witness the kite-flying.

It’s almost as if an unofficial script exists for these sorts of occasions.

Boys excited to do something.

Boys beg to do something.

Parent(s) agree(s) to do something.

Something doesn’t turn out to be as fun as Boys expected.

Boys get frustrated.

Parent(s) get(s) frustrated.

Something happens, in fits in starts.

Parent(s) rue trying to be fun ‘yes’ types.

Everyone goes home.

And so it was with little surprise that the event unfolded in a less-than-ideal manner. We arrived at the park and the boys expected to grip the spool and, voila, kite in the air…soaring.

But as I mentioned before, there was no wind. None. Also, the spool of kite-wire (or whatever it’s called) turned into a mess in our blond novices’ hands. At which point their father had to attempt to untangle the messes while maintaining a shred of patience with his irate sons.

There was a woman walking her dog when we, a family of five bearing kites, arrived at the park. Could there be anything sweeter? More heartwarming? Until, of course, the weeping and gnashing of teeth began, at which point she looked away. Thanking her lucky stars that she had a yellow lab….on a leash.

The Hen cried because his kite wasn’t working. The Gort cried that his kite wasn’t flying. And Percy walked away pretending he didn’t know any of us. A man walking his dog passed us at the height of one of the blondies’ unhappiness. I sensed he was thinking ‘note to self: don’t have kids.’

I decided it would be best to split up the unhappy children, so the Gort and I walked downhill, while the professor and the Hen worked on his butterfly kite.

We waited for the wind to lift our red dragonfly kite into the air. Finally, a semblance of a breeze rustled the tops of the trees. ‘Get ready!’ I ordered and, somewhat ineptly, the kite took flight-ish, and I watched as one delighted boy ran ten paces, pseudo-flying a kite.

Eventually, when it became clear that there was not going to be another breeze, and with one broken kite on our hands, we called it a day. ‘Did you have fun?’ the professor asked his oldest blondie. ‘No,’ came the sullen reply. ‘That’s the last time I try to be fun-dad,’ the professor muttered under his breath.

With disappointment and dashed hopes behind us, we walked home in refreshing-for-a-change harmony. The Gort was carrying his baby brother. The Hen was holding his dad’s hand. We had an armful of kites. And three small blond boys. And I was snapping pictures. We were the poster-children of familial happiness.

A driver of a white SUV slowed down beside us, smiling reverently at our collective sweetness. Undoubtedly wishing he had such a sweet and loving family.

If only he knew.

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