Dont poke a stick at the…..

He travels down the stairs like an ogre, heavy and disheveled. Rubbing his bare feet on the floor there is no doubt where he’s been or where he is headed. Shoulders dropped low, slack-jawed and mopey; don’t make eye contact for he shall unleash vengeance upon all who gaze. The ogre heads to the basement hoping to find some suitable clothing for the day. He begins pawing at the clothes basket like a bear would a tree trunk looking for grubs. Left paw, right paw he swats what is not his out-of-the-way. An annoyance really, these clothes he cares little for, or where they may land. Finding a shirt and pair of shorts he then takes to climbing out of the basement with a gasp and a grumble. Those who stand in the kitchen run for fear of falling victim to his foul mood.

I ask him where he is headed? I do this for I am not scared, nor do I cower at his presence. I am like an old lady with a rolled up newspaper ready to swat the creature on the nose for snorting my direction. He mumbles something about being upstairs, followed by a mild tantrum in regards to his little brother not picking anything up in their bedroom. All of which had nothing to do with the original question, but I let it slide for now. He vanishes back up the stairs and I sit, listening to his heavy footsteps across the floor. I can almost tell you play by-play what he is doing by the foot shuffle that carries through the ceiling overhead.

The others have gathered again hoping to eat before oaf re-enters the kitchen. But this is not be. Slowly he comes back down, dressed and ready for school. The deep furrowed brow he held before seems to have lightened a bit, showing some of the finer features of his face. He pours a bowl of cereal, covers it with milk and sits at the bar staring intently. I ask what he is staring at and all I receive is a shrug. Let the ogre eat I say quietly to myself; let the ogre eat..

He finishes his bowl and walks towards the sink to deposit the fine china and utensils. As he passes a smile arises! It’s not much but the corners of his mouth did raise to an acceptable level. So much so that yes, it’s officially deemed a smile! We have turned the corner! Houston we DO NOT have a problem! It is going to be a good day! I calmly smile back, keeping calm as to not jump the gun on this one! Go easy Betty, go easy!

He finishes his morning chores, including feeding all the horses and comes into the house with a full-blown smile! Its like the sun shining right in our kitchen! The flowers all lean his way! The dogs drop to their bellies and bask in the warm glow! He shines! He shines brightly and his mother hugs him with equal warmth and affection.

The children gather at the rear door, lunches in hand, books at the ready. All are prepared for school and most are excited to go. Mom readies herself, one last sip of coffee and off they head into the world! All run towards the car as if it were a game of tag! They are excited for the oldest is driving them to school today. Something about a kid driving other kids that makes them giggle. Three are gone but one remains at the back door. He is still smiling, staring at me with rosy cheeks, hands in pockets, back pack slung across his shoulders. The warmth still radiating from his face, I can feel his love. I walk closer and he wraps his arms around me, squeezing with all his might. He tells me to have a good day, I do the same and with a wink he is off.

He is no longer the same ogre from earlier lumbering about dragging his club and grumbling. He no longer swats at things like an angry bear. What moment brought about the change? I believe it is an uninterrupted bowl of cereal that does the trick for this lad. As I turn and close the door I soon realize that I am the very same ogre prior to my morning cup of coffee. Hmmmmm???

The legacy continues..

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Fishing

One of the many joys of fatherhood is the time honored tradition of taking your child fishing.
Now fishing isn’t just about putting a pole in the water and catching a fish: oh no! It’s about the prep work, loading the boat, buying bait, actually getting onto the water, and yes hopefully catching a fish or two.
Now before we get to far into this let me just mention that the very (and I mean VERY) first thing you must do before you ever take your child out fishing is teach them the definition of fishing. Now I know we could sit here and quibble over the Webster version but to me the definition of fishing actually comes in a short little saying. “it’s called fishing not catching” the sooner you can get your child to understand that, the more pleasant your trip will be for both of you. There are some adults I know who have still not fully grasped that concept. As your child gets older and determines they enjoy fishing, make sure and let them know you can catch just as many fish from a twenty year old boat that has paid for itself 10 times over, as you can from that fancy $70,000 job you both drooled over at the sport and boat show.
So back to the beginning. The prep work; very important when it comes to teaching your child about the responsibilities associated with going fishing.
Getting the poles out- answering twenty questions about what each pole does and why you use it.
Putting the life vests in, answering twenty questions about why we need them and reinstating that yes you will be wearing one and no I don’t care if they are uncomfortable you’re not going to be taking it off.
Packing a lunch- peanut butter and jelly is the best fishing sandwich. (personal opinion) Never take them to McDonalds first! I can’t stress that last point enough! One of two things is going to happen. One: they will expect it every time, and that means when they brings friends! Nothing can drag the trip down more, financially than that! Two:someone’s puking up a big Mac! I don’t know about you but my experience has taught me if one kids puking someone else is gonna start puking and who do ya think has to clean that up?
Yuck!!!
Buying bait is always fun, the kids get to play with the minnows or mud suckers, they squeal with joy as the fish jump about. Slimy stinky fish, a kids dream come true!!
(Important fishing rule)
Please make sure no one names them. We have a steadfast rule of no naming the bait on my boat! Once they get a name its hard to explain why I’m putting a hook in its back or better yet, why daddy just cut the head of little Nemo! All to the now psychologically damaged screams of my 6 year old! Frozen bait works well too. It’s not as much fun but it’s great watching the kids revel in how bad their hands smell when they get home.
Getting on the water is the highlight of any fishing morning. The cool crisp breeze, the light spray in your face, ducks off in the distance and river otters on the banking. Watching a sturgeon come up and belly roll out in the middle of the river. Listening to your child (who by the way is so bundled up he/she looks like the kid from “a Christmas Story”) whining about how cold they are, but with a smile on their face because they are “fishing with dad”!
Its inevitable that once you get to your favorite fishing spot you will find two other boats already camped out on top of it and one guy is reeling in a fish. You give the obligatory thumbs up with a smile on your face all while mumbling under your breath that it’s your spot and that’s your fish!
That’s ok you have a back up spot and no one is there (which explains why it’s the backup spot) so you set anchor and with a smile on your face you bait the first hook! You grin with pleasure at this fantastic moment! You and your kid, amigos, compadres, side by side, fishing like men! Ahhhh yes this is how it’s done, dad of the year! Thats me!!
Time to drop my line in the water and have a cup of Jo, pat myself on the back awhile and enjoy the scenery.
But before I do, I’m just gonna need to bait the kids hook one more time, there we go and what? Why haven’t we caught a fish yet? I explained that point quite well before we left, or so I thought. What’s that, you need more bait? No prob swing that over here, hey now watch the hook, ok quit playing with daddy’s line, no we still haven’t caught a fish, yes that sound coming from the fish finder means there are fish down there, no I don’t know why they don’t just jump in the boat, yes you can have a soda, I’m mean no you can’t have a soda it’s not even lunch yet, what you need more bait, I don’t know if you can catch a seal with an anchovy, what, NO you can’t name the bait fish Thelma and Louise! What do you mean to late! Hey put my pole down why don’t you have your pole? It fell in the water! Why didn’t you say something? Oh because you dropped the scale in and tried to get it with the pole? Can you have my pole? Ahhh no! Don’t cry, daddy didn’t mean to yell! come on little buddy fishermen don’t cry, ok you can have my pole! Just let me know when you need bait, oh that’s now, ok.
And so the day goes, we never caught any fish and I lost quite a bit of tackle and we continued a time honored tradition, carried out by numerous dads instilling the joy of fishing not catching with their children…..