Teaching Kids to Kite, Part 2 –We are here to Pump you up!
Back in the late eighties and early nineties Saturday Night Live had a regular comedy skit featuring two overly pumped Austrian brothers named Hans and Franz. This was around the time Arnold Schwarzenegger was gaining big man notoriety so almost anything Dana Carvey and Kevin Nealson did in the guise of Hans and Franz was incredibly funny. Each skit was punctuated with Hans and Franz proclaiming in unison: “We are here to pump you up!”
Imagine my delight, when during this time period I met and worked with two real live Austrian brothers named Hans and Franz. I spent a great deal of my inner life rewriting the SNL skits with lines that would fit my experiences with my Hans and Franz, unfortunately I am not nearly as funny or talented as Dana Carvey or Kevin Nealson so my comedy career went nowhere while my acquaintance/friendship persisted with Hans and Franz. The two brothers grew up in a mountain guiding family in the Alps and when I met them they were the two most respected ski instructors in our resort town. My father once told Hans that if he was reincarnated as and animal he hoped it would be an Austrian, because of the seriousness of Hans’ athletic accomplishments, not his table manners.
Hans and Franz have become ardent kiters. With Montana being a large state with few kiters and Hans and Franz being extremely amiable we see our Austrian brothers almost every windy weekend. It has been Hans who has had the most impact on my children’s learning curve by exclaiming in his accented English things like: “Francees, you are my heeero, look yooo are such a gooood kiter.” Or “So impresseeve your abliteee, it is a very goood day to see these improvement.” If I dared say anything like that I would be laughed off of the lake, river, tundra or mountain and quietly dismissed with the powerful and derisive eye roll.
There are other kiting friends that have helped my kids along. There is Jen, author of POW, who with her freckles, brown wavy hair and Australian accent is every preteens dream of best, older buddy. Jen is amazing at dispersing useful and sometimes funny information. Jen has introduced the merits eating vegemite after a beer binge: no hangover, as someday it will be useful, most kids do go to college. While blushing wildly Jen explained the importance of pumping the struts before the leading edge: because the big pump is meaningless without the “foreplay” of dealing with the little ones. The advise of this was perfectly timed as the child in questioned had just given us a run down of what occurred in sex education class at school. Once again if I had said such a thing I would have been greeted with gagging noises and some over dramatic statement of how embarrassing I am but Jen was met with peels of wild laughter, hmmm…
As any parent must know I can tell my child how great they are and for some inexplicable reason it isn’t convincing. When someone else tells
them the same truth, say with a great foreign accent and enthusiasm, well “it’s straight to the moon Alice!” Those encouraging and wonderful people, the ones who are happy to see your kids and your kids are happy to see are so important for helping them understand the greatness of their progress, themselves and their place in the community I am exposing them to. Any sportsman will tell you the after game gathering; the recounting of dirty deeds and heroic moments is what make most life experiences coalesce. It is human nature to want community, to belong and these wonderful friends and kind people you have chosen to be your friends will also help your children do their great and wonderful things and show them how to be a good friends and caring people. So far kiting has been one of the best sports for our family because of the kindness of the folks we have come to know because of this sport and I am happy for my kids because they will be part of this community. I bet your friends are just as great and interesting as so let your kids get to know these wonderful life teachers they will help “pump them up!”