As you get older you have to start being a bit more realistic. I have no higher qualification in maths, chemistry, physics, engineering, or anything else useful. I am not a pilot. I am not fit. I have poor eyesight. I have to at least start contemplating at least the possibility that I might not ever actually go to Mars. I know.
I blame my children. They trample your dreams to dust. Then they drop baked beans on the dream dust and tread it into a disgusting dust/bean mush that you have to scrape up and throw away.
My space program dreams may be fading, a little, but I still have my kite. My wind program is highly advanced and professional. I need just the lightest of breezes. My Kite packing and unpacking is exemplary, and my string management is, if I do say so myself, superb. The hell of tangling is a thing of the past.
It’s not so much fun on your own, though. So I have been waiting excitedly for the day that I could recruit my children.
We stride out onto the local park and carefully unpack the equipment, laying it out neatly. I stand, silently contemplating the wind, many years of experience and accumulated wisdom contained in that handsome thousand mile gaze. The wind is soft, gusty, inconsistent. This will take great skill and focus. The first few attempts fail, but finally it goes up, and quickly I hand the controls to my son, then my daughter. They are joyful. For several beautiful minutes we work together beautifully.
Then the kite crash lands and I send my young trainees out to retrieve it.
They grab the kite. They look back as I becon them. I see something in their eyes. Is it evil? They turn and run off with the kite, laughing. This is a launchpad disaster. Tangling is iminent. I ask them to stop. They don’t. Already the strings are starting to twist. I ask them again, more loudly. They ignore me. I chase them around the park, bellowing and pleading, screeching in panic about tangled string, as they run, cackling insanely. People watch, eyebrows raised. Three minutes later they can no longer run away. They have lashed themselves together, cheek pressed to cheek, in an immense, horrifying kite string tangle, the kite crumpled beneath their feet. They are literally dancing on it, and on my kite dreams.
I’ve never seen them happier.