Monday, 19 March 2012

Free as a bird

Lewis had almost given up on wishes - the ones he made silently and solemnly in his head after blowing out his birthday candles, or cracking a wishbone with his little finger. "Wishes don't really come true," he confided to me sadly. Hoping I might be able to help I broke the first rule of wishing and asked him to tell me. After giving it a few days of careful thought, he whispered it in my ear, "I wish that I could fly."

I still dream of flying - great lazy breaststrokes through the sky - but I admitted that attaining that particular dream was probably beyond my area of expertise. Luckily a hang-gliding friend stepped in with the reassuring news that any boy could learn to fly, and proceeded to make a miniature parachute with him to back up his claim. And so a love of flight was born.

Countless toys attached to plastic bags and thin strips of parachute silk have been hurled off our balcony. Hundreds of paper planes have been folded and launched. Now it is kites that have taken his fancy.

A visiting kite artist showed us how to fashion a simple kite from an old plastic bag, some builders' tape and a few bamboo skewers. Michael Alvares entranced us with his tales of growing up kite fighting on the streets of Mumbai, his kite strings sharpened with ground glass. Every weekend since Lewis has produced a new kite - cutting his own bamboo poles from the garden and testing them by running quickly down our steep and gravelly driveway.

Last weekend he asked if he could walk to the park to fly his kite. And for the very first time he walked to the bottom of the garden, clambered over the fence and took himself across the road to run and play without me. It was a milestone that has been a long time coming, but which I silently rejoiced in. The start of independence. He told me on Thursday I no longer need to collect him from the bus stop - he can now walk home alone. I am so proud of him. He is free as a bird.

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