"I never recall as a child, seeing other children fly kites which had been bought. In the 50s, we made our own kites. The skin of our kites were made from brown paper, but what we made flew, besides providing me and my friends with many hours of fun on a windy day.
In fact, come to think of it, brown paper was used for virtually everything between 1940 and 1955. Parcels were wrapped in it, all shop owners used it to wrap up their sold goods and for a few unlucky households who knew austerity, it was even used in the outside privy. Before I was seven years old, I even believed it to be the chief material used to make the wings of planes in the First World War!
Flying kites was as much a part of character building in my youth as all the other games we played as children. From construction through to achieving the looping of the loop required the skills of many an engineer in the making, with a dexterity of hand needed to make it soar instead of crash to the ground. What kite flying taught us was how to take hold of life, how to control it, how to let go and how to have fun; ingredients of happiness sadly lacking in many today.
Self-control is the gate way to success and it also the chief element of self-respect. We can have all the talent in the world, but without the ability to harness it and use it appropriately it will prove of little worth. It was Benjamin Franklin who said, 'If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins......Educate your children to self-control, to the habit of holding passion and prejudice and evil tendencies subject to an upright and reasoning will, and you have done much to abolish misery from their future and crimes from society.'
Control is an essential and powerful thing. I could never fully trust a person to control others who cannot control themselves, as he who controls others may be powerful, but he who has mastered self is mightier still.
Loosening the reins and letting go is also an essential skill to learn, both as an individual and also as a parent. Kite flying teaches a parent how to give freedom of expression to one's children at crucial stages of their development; enough freedom to test out new things and make use of their wings, while keeping them in your sight and influence to direct. It is only natural that one moment they will tug at your heartstrings and your inclination will be to pull them ever closer to you; at other times they will get too headstrong and pull away from you. When they pull away from you, resist the urge to yank them back, otherwise they will resent you for it and you might finish up losing them altogether. Try to control their direction too much and they will break free from your grasp or at worst come crashing to the ground beyond repair. Gentleness mixed with firmness and control blended with freedom of expression is the only way to enable them to loop the loop.
Having fun is an essential ingriedient to life and happiness. Not to be able to laugh at the world or laugh at oneself is to take life too dam seriously. There is no fear when one is having fun, no regret and no depression. Never grow too old that you completely lose touch of your childhood ways and never be afraid to jump in puddles for the sheer hell of it or be too timid to throw caution to the wind!
I bet you never thought that flying kites could be so much fun as well as being educational, did you? For those of you who have children or grandchildren aged 5-9 years old, I recommend my children's story 'Annie's Kite' which can be heard for free by following the link to my website. The story was produced for radio transmission initially and is read by the television actress Brigit Forsyth of 'The Likely Lads.' The book is also available from amazon or www,lulu in hard copy with all profits going to charity. The late Dame Catherine Cookson and her husband Tom who were good friends of mine loved the 'Action Annie' stories so much that they paid for a limited-edition publication of the twelve stories with the book profits going to a children's charity." William Forde: January 21st, 2016. .