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They Help us Fly Straight

Story ID:6313
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:Caldwell ID USA
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A steady wind blew across the field, spun the little patch of hair I have left on the
top of my head, and pushed at the kite I held in my hand. It was a great day to fly a kite.
The green field stretched into the distance, where it met the blue skies at the horizon.

“Come on, Poppa-Mike!” My grandson Benny said. “Make it fly!”

“OK, Ben. Here we go!” I tossed the kite into the air, ran through the grass, and
pulled the kite behind me. The wind caught it. I let the string slip through my fingers,
as the kite climbed higher. I stopped running, turned and watched the kite silhouetted
by the perfect blue sky.

The kite climbed, dipped, climbed, dipped again, and spiraled into the

“Mike, it needs a longer tail. It needs the stability to keep it straight as it climbs.”
Ginny said.

“Are you sure?” I asked. “Won’t a longer tail hold it back?”

She gave that look that says, “Don’t argue with a woman!”

“Ok, I’ll add more tail!” I tied a few more feet of ribbon to the tail and tried
again. The kite stood straight as the wind carried it higher and higher. “Here, Ben!” I
handed the string to him. “She’s all yours, pilot Benny.”

I lay on my back in the grass and watched the kite hold a steady line of flight.
Ginny was right. It needed a longer tail. The drag helped stabilize the kite’s flight.
It’s an interesting theory: to fly high and straight, the kite needs drag, just like I do.

My parents were like the tail. They didn’t hold me back, but they held on to
my string. When I swerved, they pulled and scolded me. They kept me straight.
They were the tail of the family. Without their stability, I would have swerved,
dived and crashed.

My teachers and mentors were the same. They allowed me to fly, but when
I strayed, they held me back. I spent my share of time in the corner or in the principal’s
office when I didn’t fly straight.

At work, my boss allows me to work on my projects. If I miss a deadline, he
calls me to his office and talks to me. “Mike, what happened? You did great on that
last job. Did you get distracted on this one? Did you dip?” He allows me to fly, but
when I stray, he drags me in.

Parents, bosses, teachers and spouses: the tails that stabilize. The good ones don’t
hold us back. They help us fly straight.

Michael T. Smith