Boomer kids divided everything into months. January was noted for New Year’s Day and celebrations before heading back to school. February was cold, which meant snow, which meant school closings, which meant tearing down hillsides in a genuine Flexible Flyer sled and hoping for the best. April had Easter egg hunts. May meant school picnics and Little League tryouts. June was vacation time, then the 4th of July and all the summer fun. In the middle of all this was March. March was, is and always will be windy. March was clearly kite season and kites were a big deal back then.
Every kid had one. Some could really make them soar. I was one who could not. I tried box kites and triangle kites. I made custom tails from old, torn pajama bottoms. I used genuine kite string and ran like a deer to launch my aircraft, which turned out to be more of a John Deere plow than a soaring kite.
In my adult life, my youngest daughter, Laura, approached me one day, around the middle of March and announced the Annual Woodbrook Elementary School’s Father/Daughter Kite Flying Day at the schoolyard.
“Daddy, will you help me build and fly a kite?”
What could I say?
“Laura, your father is a moron and can’t get a kite off the shelf of Wal-Mart, much less make it fly. Also, when it comes to putting things together, that part of my brain was severely damaged in the birth canal. I can barely open a box of Cheerios, much less put a kite together.”
No, I couldn’t say that. I had to say, “Sure, we’ll build and fly a kite. Let’s go pick one out.”
It had been years since I was in the kite department in the hardware store, but I hoped that by now modern technology would have generated a pre-assembled, foolproof kite for idiots. It had not. In fact, the kites were more complicated than ever and had three pages of instructions for assembly. None made sense, not even in Spanish, so Laura and I did our best, which included snapping one of the thin wooden cross braces on first try, followed by a trip back to the store for a replacement. Eventually, we assembled something which resembled a kite on the cover of the package and awaited the dreaded day. I prayed for rain, but it was clear and windy. Immediately, other fathers and their children sent kites soaring into the stratosphere, some so high that incoming planes had to change course. I think 12 feet was our highest altitude. I ran as fast as I could, the kite would make a feint leap as if going up, and then plunge into the dirt, requiring re-assemblage and a Herculean effort at language control.
Laura was very gracious.
“Thank you for trying Daddy. We’ll do better next year.”
“Next year? Please Lord, next year let’s just skip March altogether.”
Now I know exactly what it means when someone says to “Go fly a kite.”