Learning From Our Children
These days, I don’t get to fish like I used to. The days of fishing 2-4 days a week after work have been replaced with overtime at work, working a side business, housework, exercising in an attempt to keep up with a slowing metabolism, and being a father and husband. The weekends are reserved for more housework, guide trips, and catching up on lost family time. When you decide to grow up and have a family, there are many sacrifices you take on. You learn the meaning of selflessness. But this transition is not one of duties and recreational activities. It’s an inner transition; a realignment of priorities. So when I had a chance to do some fishing last Saturday, I made the decision to invite my fishing partner in training. In making this decision, I accepted the fact that there would most likely be more throwing rocks and jumping in plunge pools than catching. And the realization made me smile.
Lisa wanted to come with us, so her parents (thankfully) volunteered to watch Wyatt. At 15 months, it would be unfair to keep him on the sidelines. We headed to one of my favorite brook streams, windows down and Van Morrison on the mic. Once we crossed the railroad tracks, I smelled the aroma that every fisherman yearns for. The spring wildflowers. The fresh cut hay fields. The plunging spring water. I was in my haven.
We got out of the truck and started rigging up. I’d given Emma Jo one of my never been used Fishpond chest packs. She immediately made me give her one of my fly boxes to store in her new “bookbag”. I started putting together my new Orvis Recon rod, and was abruptly commanded to put her Echo Gecko together first. I gladly complied.
She helped me run the line through mine, then proudly began instructing Lisa on casting while I finished.
We started walking, picking up speed with anticipation. As I felt her hand slide into my palm, I thanked God for the reminder of what is most important in my life.
Her mother was certain every leaf was poison ivy, so I was tasked with carrying her through the woods between the road and creek. Between the briar bushes and Emma Jo playing the drums on my head, I was happy to get on the water.
I set my rod down and helped her work her little woolly bugger. It amazes me how well she listens to instruction (at least when fishing).
She was quite concerned with me falling while I retrieved her fly from a submerged branch…
She had on her rain boots, so needless to say it didn’t take long to fill them up.
Those in my circle know I have two things going on… a little mix of OCD and ADHD. Unfortunately (per her mother) Emma Jo shares my traits. I quickly found myself competing with the creek rocks. She started off with a little one. Then another. Then a handful. I put the rod down and joined in. After a while, I decided to educate her a little. I started grabbing big ones and turning them over. She always forgets there are bugs living under the rocks; the thrill she exhibits is so refreshing.
I carried her around between runs a bit more, soon realizing we needed to take this party to some slower open water. I grabbed my Recon and began trying to catch her a native brookie or wild bow to reel in. I wanted only the best for her. I threw on an elk hair caddis and went to work. Slurp. I knew right away from the take it was a creek chub. But in that instant before my mind registered the fact, I’d already set the hook. It’s amazing how muscle memory works. My disgust with this less than desirable specimen quickly turned to optimism as I told Emma Jo we had a fish on. Her eyes filled with excitement. I handed her the rod and she immediately began reeling in the line like there was no tomorrow. I helped keep the rod tip up, and in no time grabbed the little fish. I took the fly off, handed her the fish, and for a moment she reminded me what it was like to be absolutely thrilled with a catch, even if it was a chub. Daddy! Daddy! He’s so pretty! He ate my fly! Her smile is so very contagious. After a kiss, she returned the fish to its home.
We stood there for a few minutes, talking about how hungry the fish was. Within a couple minutes, she fell on her butt in the cold water and mama ordered us to come to the truck so she could change.
On the drive back, Lisa and I talked about how happy Emma Jo was with her little fish. I realized something that day. My 3 year old had just schooled me. We get so caught up in catching select species, big numbers, or big fish. There are plenty of times I almost get annoyed in catching a rainbow when I’m searching for brookies. Or days I get frustrated when I only catch a few. My little girl reminded me that it doesn’t have to matter what you catch. She could have cared less what kind of fish it was. She was happy just to catch a fish. We all started out that way. Somewhere along the way we lose that mindset. I learned a valuable lesson that day from my girl, one I hope I don’t soon forget. Just enjoy it for what it is. Enjoy being in nature. Enjoy catching a fish. Enjoy as many of the little things in life, that actually matter, as you can.
May 13, 2015 @ 9:07 am
This is an awesome story, we’ll written and the pictures are perfect! You’re a great father, husband and I’m proud to know you!
May 13, 2015 @ 2:21 pm
Glad you enjoyed it Ricky. And thanks much for the kind words!
May 13, 2015 @ 2:43 pm
Best blog post – from you or anyone else – I’ve read in a very long while. Reminds me very much of my time wig my own children. Thank you for that Josh.
May 13, 2015 @ 4:04 pm
Thanks so much for that man. It’s nice to hear positive feedback. The ones involving my family seem to be the best. Hope you’re doing good Mike.
May 13, 2015 @ 2:49 pm
Hey jOSH That was a great story, I really did enjoy it. You express your feeling very good. She shore is pretty and growing up fast. Say hi to Lisa, I love and miss you guys.
May 13, 2015 @ 4:04 pm
Thanks Billy! We miss y’all! I was talking to John about getting together soon.
May 15, 2015 @ 10:34 am
Great story Josh!!
God gives us little reminders daily to teach and show us how far we’ve come. He also takes us a step back to help us appreciate where we came from.
Keep up the good stories!
May 15, 2015 @ 8:49 pm
Thanks Sharon. He sure does. Keeps us humble.
July 30, 2015 @ 4:46 pm
Awesome stuff Josh!! Our children are here to teach us all the simple things in life and how to enjoy every day with ease! I had the same experience but I took my 3 1/2 fishing for bass, she caught an awesome little bluegill and she was the happiest little girl!!
Great story and Congrats on your fly becoming a part of orvis!!
July 30, 2015 @ 7:51 pm
You’re right Ryan. Glad you agree. That’s awesome you got to experience that with your little girl! And thanks man; it’s great working with Orvis.