Friday, March 12, 2010
Let's Go Fly a Kite!
I guess I was unlike most kids. To me, flying a kite required running and waiting for wind, two things I did not particularly like to do. I would fly kites with my family every now and then but I never really understood the appeal. I would watch movies where people were flying kites with stupid smiles on their faces, see people at the beach dancing their kites high above the sand, and of course I read Kite Runner which moved me to tears. But even with all this exposure, I still could never get that warm, happy feeling from watching a kite fly in the sky. So when my parents sent me a kite in a care package, my gut instinct was to think, “oh man, I am going to have to fly this thing with my village, what a drag.” I kept the kite hidden in the corner of my room hoping that no nosey kid would notice it during a homework session and make me take it out. Little did I know what was to come.
It was a Thursday afternoon and the homework/computer center was especially slow. As three kids rotated turns on the one computer I was busily writing out the story I will be teaching next week. I like to get my materials made ahead of time so I do not have to think about them for the weekend. Huge gusts of wind kept bursting through the open door and blowing away my flimsy newsprint. I was halfway through the story when I reached my limit and put down the pen. I looked outside, then turned to the girls at the computer and asked, “who wants to fly a kite?” Eagerly, they all jumped up. I ran into my room, pulled out the kite and quickly unraveled some string.
We went out behind my house and I took the reel while one of the older girls took the kite. We waited for another gust of wind, and then I started running. Nothing happened. We tried again. Again, failure. My childhood disappointment was quickly creeping up on me and I started to think that I had made a mistake in bringing out the kite. I passed the reel over to another girl. At this point a small crowd had gathered. We took the kite out to the road and the girls tried it out. Again, nothing, but the anticipation was growing and growing. More kids came running out of the fale’s and with every attempt to get the kite up in the air, shrieks of laughter could be heard. And then, magic: the kite took flight and the cheers could be heard throughout the village. A small army of little kids laughed and yelled as they ran to chase the kite, throwing rocks high into the air and jumping as if to touch it! Every face was plastered with large, pure smiles, including mine. I heard Mary Poppin’s voice creep into my head and started to sign. The kids around me asked me to sing the song again and again until they learned it too. At this moment I realized what it was to fly a kite, and I felt my heart smile. Not until Samoa did I know what this phrase meant, but three times in the past week I have felt it. The first was receiving a phone call from my nephew Jonah in which he promised to send me a pirate ship filled with wash clothes, and encouraged me to keep an eye out for that tricky leprechaun who bears gold. Second was swimming in the ocean last weekend with all my friends and feeling like Samoa was finally home. And third was watching the kids laugh and play as they ran circles for hours chasing that kite. I will never forget the moment.