For Father’s Day, Son, Daughter and I gave Husband fishing gear. In the two years we’ve been in this house, Husband has commented repeatedly that he’d like take Son fishing. Growing up, he fished with his Dad and now that we have an Angler’s Dock on the reservoir at the end of our street, he’s been itching to sink his line into the water.
So, I visited Walmart (on the advice of a mommy friend who said inexpensive poles can be found there) and purchased two Zebco poles for Father and Son and a Barbie fishing pole for Daughter. The Zebcos came with full tackle gear (sans worms) and I bought a tackle box for show and convenience. I then visited a local tackle shop (on the recommendation of another mommy friend who’s husband fishes often) to purchase freshwater worms. Oh, and I even went to Town Hall for the local fishing permit.
Proud of my full-service gift, guaranteed to give Husband hours of fathering fun, I whispered my secret to the kids and we all wrapped the gear, sneaking peaks of the worms several times before placing them in the tackle box.
Husband was surprisingly non-plussed upon opening the presents. It became slowly apparent that while the prospect of this peaceful sport seemed appealing, the thought of actually taking two preschoolers down to the dock for what would turn out to be a litany of “Don’t!” and “Be careful!” and “Watch your line!” while Husband simultaneously tried to hook a worm then a fish while keeping Son from tumbling down the hill into the water, hooking the overhanging tree or worse yet, himself; was actually quite a daunting, unappealing idea.
But, when the sun gave us an unexpected visit this weekend, Husband rallied, geared up and took Son fishing. I brought Daughter down in the stroller (Barbie pole poised carefully in her lap) for a guest visit.
When Daughter and I arrived, Husband and Son sat nestled amongst the pine branches; their lines cast out into the clear, still water; the sun dappling across their shoulders. Their big and little camp chairs sat side by side with Son in a navy fishing hat. It was sweet and serene and broken only by Husband’s anxious directives as Son jumped out of his chair to check for fish on the line, stumble along the edge of the slope, or pester Husband with one more variation on “When will we catch a fish?”
Daughter and I sat far enough away at the water’s edge, Barbie-line’s pink plastic butterfly resting on a rock, soaking up the sun, and practicing pushing the button and reeling back in.
As we left, Husband and Son’s serenity appeared broken by threats to go home and I wondered whether this had all been such a good idea.
Forty-five minutes later, they arrived home, both seemingly at peace with the outing. As Husband later relayed, Son had finally said to him:
“Dad, I don’t know how to fish. I’m just learning. You need to teach me.”
In other words, give me a break!
Husband realized that his memories of fishing with his father were from later childhood and young adulthood, when he already knew how to fish. Teaching Son required starting from scratch and employing all his fatherly patience. In return, Son would learn the lesson that hooks aren’t toys and fishing requires quiet and his own patience. And together, hopefully, they’ll spend long leisurely outings making memories for each other.