Teaching Kids to Kite, Part 1 -I Will do Anything to be With you, Even if I Have to tie you up.
This past spring I listed 2 small kites, a 3.5m and 5m, on Ikitesurf.com. These kites were the Cabrinha Converts that my husband and I purchased and used to teach our children how to kite. When I listed them I got 2 types of inquires, the first were from men who thought they would like to have a tiny kite just in case a hurricane whipped thru their favorite spot and the other was well meaning parents eager to get Jr. kiting. I know it is not fair business practices but I quickly dismissed the over confident men with death wishes and responded to the parents, after all I have a soft spot in my heart for anyone who wants to share the stoke with their kids. I became an email “pal” with two different fathers, as not only were they interested in the tiny kites but also advice on how to teach their kids.
I loved that someone was asking me; I believe that there really needs to be kids kiting everywhere. I am looking forward to a future where these youngsters will be blowing my mind with what they are doing with their kites. While emailing back and forth with these nice gentlemen I began to understand that they had similar family values to my own, they loved their kids more than they loved having a good time and they were very much looking forward to having a good time with their kids. This made me realize that these families had the first and most crucial element to successfully teaching their kids to kite, a willingness to do almost anything to spend time with them and a complete lack of guilt about getting Jr. hooked on a new drug, kiting.
Let me tell you teaching our two kids to kite has been a huge endeavor not intended for the meek or those close to having a heart attack. I have belly crawled ½ mile thru thigh deep powder to help my daughter and my husband has swam what seemed like 5 miles in Kailua Bay to help the same princess relaunch her kite many times in light winds, just to outline some of the physical demands. Then there are the mental demands, imagine having the person you brought into this world tell you they hate you because they used their stopper ball as a handle to hot launch their kite or watching them have a major lapse of consciousness and try and land their kite between two cars parked on a highway just because they saw one of your crazy friends do it. Yep, this is serious mental strength.
As parents trying to teach our kids we also have to have a very strong urge to force our kids to spend time with us. Most sane kids, these days, would rather play their i-pod or hang with their friends then go have their well meaning, slightly crazy and clearly embarrassing parents teach them to kite. On occasions when I am meeting resistance trying to get a 13 and 12 year old in the car I have a fantasy that my husband and I quietly pack our gear and slip away. I am sure in this moment of internal delusion that my children will never notice our absence and that they will not look up from the computer or i-pod and realize they have no supervision; they will be catatonic the whole day while I kite my brains out; as I said fantasy.
The truth of it is my husband and I figuratively move mountains to spend time with our kids. We have defined quality time as all of us doing something that my husband and I love to do together, weather it is skiing, kiting, boating or mountain biking. It is less important if the kids like it as much as we do and we justify this attitude because our kids a clearly newer to this world than us and they need to be enlightened. This may backfire on us but well what the heck, we are going to give it a serious try.
I have noticed there are kiters who do not hook the kids on kiting or even try. The kids in these kiter’s live seem peripheral, kiting is about mom or dad having fun and Jr. hangs with friends and hardly makes an appearance on the kite scene. I have been surprised by finding out that more than one of our kiting friends has children of their own, in their teens, that I have never seen or heard about until the said parent complains about the trouble the teen has found on their long weekends at home while mom or dad is at the lake or mountain. My first thought is: “Duh, you left a 15 year old with unfettered access to their peers instead of bring them to this windy, remote and lonely place where their very survival depends on you, your charity and your camp stove, of course they have run amuck. What in the heck were you thinking?”
Several years ago my husband and I took a parenting class by Gordon Neufeld called “Hold on to Your Kids”. Like all humans we found a class that was in alignment with our own personal parenting philosophy so we could sit in class and feel smug and superior as we learned we do almost everything right. With that aside one of the premises of this class was that parents should be the ones to provide the child with opportunities that they could not otherwise do. The parent need to position themselves as the gateway, if you will, to diverse, interesting and bonding experiences, not their peers. Gordon took his children on canoe trips, we take our kids kiting, skiing, biking etc. We make sure our kids know how they get there, who will save them, if they need saving, and who really thinks they are cool. I like this thought and I think I will continue to twist Gordon’s philosophy to suit my needs and see how things go.