Running with Kites

>Last week my daughter and son decided to make little kites from odds and ends from our family craft bag. They colored scraps of construction paper, added little pipe cleaner embellishments and as much glitter as humanly possible, then, at last, glued on lengths of ribbon as the tails. They were super cute, but totally dysfunctional–as far as kites go.

The kites sat on the counter for a couple of days; that was a lot of glue that needed drying.

And on a warm-ish clear day, with just a wisp of wind here and there, my son decided to test his wonderful kite while his sister was away at school.

I looked at the kite. I looked out the window. I formed a rebuttal in mind. I held onto it.

Instead, I said, “Okay. Have fun!” and out the sliding door he went.

He ran around the yard a little bit watching the kite fly behind him, but it wasn’t working. It wasn’t actually flying. On the contrary, it was just kind of bouncing along behind him and no matter how fast he tried to run or how high he held his arm it just wouldn’t catch the wind. It didn’t take him very long to determine that his beloved, carefully crafted kite was a dud!

He didn’t say anything when he came back in, surprisingly; he just put it back on the counter and went to play legos. I think he learned something outside. I know I learned something by watching him from inside.

Holding my tongue was the best thing I did that day. I could’ve tried to warn him of the frustration he was soon to encounter. I could’ve burst his little bubble and told him that the kite, no matter how well crafted, was just not going to work. Or I could’ve saved him a bit of disappointment by telling him it was great but not windy enough (no amount of wind would’ve made it soar). But no, I held my tongue and let him learn for himself.

I remember doing the same thing when I was young. I remember running and running and running to no avail. But I also remember the joy in simply creating and trying.

I know that there will be many opportunities over the coming years where holding my tongue will serve an invaluable lesson. The lessons learned may result in failed grades, friendships lost, garnished allowances, and a host of other consequences, but they will be lessons my children will have to learn for themselves. It will be my job to offer advice when asked or to step in if the situation is too serious, but more than anything, my job as a parent will be to offer support, a listening ear, and an outside point-of-view so that reflection and introspection can transform future outcomes.

Sometimes not saying anything at all is the most powerful action in the course of a situation, no matter how disappointing the outcome. May I learn to hold my tongue more often!

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