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Child Playing With Parent

The Kid And The Kite

I’m so glad my son mouthed off at my parent’s church picnic. No, really, I am! Let me back up and explain. We ended up as guests at the annual picnic by chance, but there are no accidents. There were kites available, but I grabbed the one that’s been sitting in the back of my van, just in case, for three years. I knew today was the day to share the gift of kite flying with my five year old.

The first few tries were not very impressive. Aston wandered off, having lost interest, and, as I found out later, a little hungry. Eventually, my brother-in-law teamed up with me and we had lift off! Within a few minutes I scanned the pavilion to invite him to experience the joy for himself.

Instead, my sister made her way over and informed me that as she helped Aston fill a plate of food with his regularly declared ‘Non-Meat’ selections, there was an incident. Apparently, a well-meaning church member who knows my extended family, but not us, offered him (gasp!) popcorn chicken. Whereupon, he yelled at her, “No meat, I said!!!”

Lovely. The set of her mouth told me the upshot of all this. She was half embarrassed at the implication of being his aunt, yet half curious how I, the parenting coach, would handle this one. I asked if she could send him over.
   
Knowing these moments are really opportunities to do your best parenting work, I considered my options. I could get upset then make him sorry for his mistake. No, too emotionally charged. I could deny him the pleasure of the kite flying or the other activities to make a point. Nah, then I miss out too. I could stop interacting with him until he notices. (Not a chance, really.)

As all this whirled in my head, I had my eye on the kite. Inspiration struck. When he joined me I said, “Do you see that kite? Doesn’t it look so happy, flying free?”
“Yes,” he said.
“Do you know the kite cannot fly without the string that connects it to the earth?”
“Oh.”

“So I really want the kite to soar, but I need to manage the string at the same time.” We actually use the word manage this way at home.
“Uh huh.”
Then, I kid you not, at that precise moment, the kite starts bobbing and weaving like crazy!
“See how when it loses control, I pull in the string until it straightens back out?”
“Yeah,”
“Well you are like the kite and I am like the string, when you lose control I pull the string in and help you straighten back out, got it?”
“Got it.”

Having made my point, I zeroed in on the coaching he needed. I handed him the kite string and he stood gazing up and managing the string fully as I spoke.
“So when the woman asked if you wanted chicken, was your answer keeping your agreement to use manners?”
“No.”
“Well, Aston, I’m pulling your string in.”
He smiled up at me and I knew he got it. We flew the kite together.

Within a few minutes we had safely landed the kite and rolled up the string. As we walked together back to the pavilion to speak to the woman and fix his mistake, he turned to me to say, “Hey Mom, I could just say; ‘No, thank you.’ to popcorn chicken.”
Momentarily stopped in my tracks, I breathed, “Yes.”
Then he turned and skipped away from me, arms wide, crowing, “I’m flying, I’m flying!”

I was complete.
 
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