The ‘imagination’ category

Learning to Fly

March 6th, 2023

My daughters have long been interested in flying.

Not as in, pilot-style, but as in, bird.

Periodically, they will become hyper-fixated on figuring out how to fly and will start experimenting on making parachutes for their stuffies. They have tried all kinds of materials for the parachute: kitchen towels, handkerchiefs, plastic bags, and even, most recently, the skirt from their Elsa dress. They spend a lot of time figuring out how best to rig and fasten the DIY parachute, then climb to the top of a pile of pillows to test it out. It’s a fail every time.  

At some point, they become frustrated and ask me to tell them the secret to flying. Ever the unimaginative pragmatist, I repeatedly tell them that “Only birds and things with wings can fly.” I tell them “Simple physics dude: the stuffy is too heavy.” And when they try to rig up DIY flying apparati and test it out by jumping off of stacks of cushions, I say “Uh not too high cuz that’s not going to work.”

In the bath, Phoebe was grilling me about how she could learn to fly. “Seriously Mama,” she says. “Just tell me.” 

She thinks I am hiding some vital information from her that she is not yet ready for. I look her straight in the eyes and say “Phoebe, I don’t know how to fly.”  

Annoyed, she responds, “Aren’t you old? Shouldn’t you have figured this out by now?”

Somehow this actually makes me feel like a slacker. 

The other day, their friend M was over. The three girls spent a very serious afternoon on this paradox, apparently, because I came home from work and found these drawings and plans.

IMG_2432 2

IMG_2431 2

“What’s this?” I ask. “Were you guys designing a flying machine?” 

Phoebe corrects me. “No, M already has one in her closet. That’s what it looks like. She described it to me and I drew it.”

Now, they are convinced M has a flying machine in her closet. So when Phoebe went skiing with Daddy, and Eliza had an impromptu playdate with M, Phoebe was anxious that they’d go flying without her. Once again, I assured her that she wouldn’t be left out of using the flying machine because THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A FLYING MACHINE.

When Phoebe got home from skiing seven hours later, she charged in the door and immediately asked Eliza, “Did you get to go on the flying machine?”

Eliza admitted, “No. M couldn’t find it today.” 

Jon just looked at me with the sarcastic eyes and mouthed “she couldn’t find it.”

Are we the jerks? 

The end of this story has yet to unfold, but in the meantime, I will leave you with this video of my daughters flying the only way they currently know how.


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