Flying Fever

March 23rd, 2023

Last week we were buried under feet of snow, the branches of the pine trees weighed perilously low to the roads. Some people didn’t have power for days. We were very fortunate to escape that fate on Tater Lane.

This morning, the sun came out, and the air began to warm ever so slightly. Which naturally meant I found this little A-hole walking brazenly across my laptop keyboard before noon.

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Every creature in the house is experiencing spring fever. The old, blind, deaf dog relentlessly paces. The cat insists I open the door so she can sit on the threshold — not inside, not outside, but right in between. The phoebes are in the yard, calling to my same-name child. The endless Asian lady beetles infesting our house clack against the windows and ceiling incessantly before ultimately dying in very inconvenient places.

My daughters, too, feel the fever. They want to be outside in sundresses and sandals, although there is still a massive amount of snow on the ground. I have one call this afternoon while I’m home with them, and I foolishly convince myself yet again that surely I can take a call while I’m with my daughters. Of course they can keep themselves busy for just one hour. OF COURSE THEY CAN.

They have a friend over, and they’re all shouting at Alexa to decipher the “Egyptian secret code” they’ve found woven into my bedroom rug. I mute myself. “Stop yelling at Alexa!” I yell. 

The friend’s dad picks her up, and my daughters go outside. Ah, now I can focus on my meeting. A few minutes in, I excuse myself to make sure they’re okay and find them in the backyard, using an ax to cut pieces of duct tape. The ax is normally locked up in the shed, which we custom-built a door for so the lock would be out of their reach, but they’ve discovered that by standing on each other’s shoulders, they can unlock the heavy deadbolt to break into the shed. 

I take the ax away.

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The next time I check on them, they’ve built an entire “flying machine” out of a tarp they found in the shed, along with duct tape and sticks. It has “propellers” made from smaller sticks and paper. They’re climbing up on our rickety wooden picket fence to test it out. The scissors they grabbed to replace the ax are pointy-end-up in the grass.

“This looks dangerous!” I remark helplessly.

“It’s going to work this time,” Phoebe assures me. I watch her jump off the fence and plummet to the ground.

When my meeting is finally over, Eliza asks me, “Can we go on the tire swing with our flying machine?”

“Absolutely not,” I reply.

The tire swing is barely safe to begin with, and we just had a major storm that weakened a lot of the trees and branches. The “flying machine” is huge and now involves rope, so not only is there a bone-breaking element here, but a strangling danger too. Summoning my inner Japanese mom, I list five ways they could die.

Eliza is so mad. “It’s like you don’t even want us to fly!”

I have to ask myself, do I want them to fly? It’s something they talk about constantly, a bit of an obsession, even. They’re convinced there is some secret to flying I am just too stupid or mean to tell them about. They think if they grill me enough, I will fess up. 

Instead, I patiently explain to them why they can’t fly, why they will never fly, why it’s impossible. Is this really what parenting is? Constantly deflating your children’s dreams?

I check in with Jon, who is much less fear-oriented and neurotic than me, and from whence their adventurous spirit came in the first place. He texts back, “Contrary to popular belief, humans are not supposed to fly.” That’s what I thought.

The ticks don’t fly, but somehow they manage to get around quite well, those little m*therf*ckers.

Before bed, we run a ferocious tick check — an activity that will pervade the next 9 to 10 months of our lives. As she’s falling asleep, Eliza asks Jon to make sure the flying machine gets put away for the night, so it doesn’t blow away.


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