When I was five or six, the Green Giant Company had a promotional giveaway. You mailed in eight package labels and they sent you a Jolly Green Giant kite and a small plastic figure of the Giant’s sidekick, the Little Green Sprout. Clip the Sprout to the kite string, let the wind carry him up, and a flick of the string would send him floating back to earth on a parachute.
I had no particular fondness for the Jolly Green Giant (or the vegetables he was hawking), but I was crazy for this kite. I have no idea why. I can only imagine that there was a television ad that made it look like the most fun toy ever created. Mom sent in the labels, and when the kite arrived, Dad put it together and we took it down to the park.
It was as tall as I was, and sturdy. When we launched it, I remember feeling that it might lift me off the ground if not for Dad’s grip on my shoulders. When we ran out of string, we sent Sprout rocketing aloft. I waited as long as I could to pluck the string. Sprout popped off, the chute opened, and Sprout floated earthward. It was a glorious sight.
Right up until the wind caught him.
Sprout blew far off course, into the woods at the edge of the field. Though we reeled in the kite as quickly as we could and went looking for Sprout, we never found him.
Dad expected me to cry, I’m sure. I cried a lot as a child, and I remember the look on his face when he told me there was no hope. But I didn’t cry. I remember feeling disappointed, but at the same time, feeling that it was not something to be upset over. I’d gotten to watch Sprout fly, and that was good enough.