Fishing with my girls...
The thing about having three daughters is that sometimes I want to impart masculinity into something or someone and they happen to be the only ones available in those moments of epiphany.
A couple days ago I picked them up after work from their friend's house and was driving home when I was overcome with the desire to "fish". Heidi was leading a women's ministry meeting and I was--dangerously--left alone with the girls for the whole evening, left to my own devices so to speak.
This penchant for fishing caught me off guard because I've never been much of an angler, or a hardcore outdoorsman for that matter. I try to fake like I'm Grizzly Adams sometimes because I love the woods and creation and virgin land, but at the end of the day, I'm not much of a survivor in the wild. I don't know how to hunt, I don't know how to fish, all I know how to do in the wild is take a pee and climb a tree.
So when I felt this ineffable inner nudge to fish, I began to talk myself out of it which usually works. But this time, something unnamable inside of me wouldn't let me just go home to enjoy the safety of domesticated and docile living. And in a fit of pent up masculine rage mixed with Peteresque impulsivity, I took a left turn at the light in Lowell and headed to Meijer for some fishing poles, some fishing lures and some fishing worms. I turned to the girls who were strapped into the seat belts and said, "It's time for adventure, Fancy Nancys!" I told them my scheme and they were elated. Aly immediately floated out the first feminine grenade to blow up the idea, "What would Mom think if she knew we were doing this?" This was the first question of many that sprung from their little female hearts as we made our way to the makeshift sportsman section. There were all sorts of girly road side bombs and lady land mines that I had to navigate around to actually follow through and make this fishing thing happen. It was kinda fun.
I said to them, "We're doing it and that is that! Just cause your Mom doesn't like fishing doesn't mean you won't. I'm going to get you grabbing worms and kissing fish heads and your Mom won't be here to stop me or you!" They laughed and almost saw it as an opportunity to be naughty with Dad's permission. (kinda like when my dad came and woke me and my brother up at midnight to watch March Madness and told us to not tell our Mom)...scandalous.
We got the poles, the lures, and the worms and headed down to the Flat River. I was kinda scared, quite honestly, because I didn't know how to do this. I wasn't sure how to tie a fish hook so that it didn't slip off the 10 pound test line. I didn't know whether to put sinkers on and how far the bobber was supposed to be from the impelled worm. This may seem strange to everyone else that I don't know these things, but this was somewhat new to me. And men, no matter how small the venture, don't do well with new things that test the limits of their comfort zones. As I was setting up the poles and they were watching me, I could tell they thought I knew what I was doing even though I hadn't a clue. I wondered how many times I thought my dad knew what he was doing when he didn't.
We finally found a place on the river, guided by a friend that happened to be eating at the Flat River Grill, and set up camp for our fishing expedition. I casted the line in and waited for the bobber to plunge into the cool current. And to my surprise, it did! I would get the fish on and give the pool to the girls and they would reel the sucker into the shore with shot-gun giggles and shouts of adulation. It was amazing beyond words.
We had a stringer that we would put the fish on to keep them alive. I had no idea what we were going to do with these fish when all was said and done, but the girls thought we would take them home and eat them. (I don't know jack about flaying a fish, etc., but I didn't know how to tell them so without them seeing my fig leaf that was covering my shamed nakedness.)
We were catching rock bass and sunfish when the same friend that turned us on to this fishing hot spot came down and showed us the ropes. (Jeff Stewart is his name and he's a fisherman extraordinaire.) He showed us how to hook the worm on to catch the big ones. He took the bobber off and floated the worm down a certain section of the river where he said the big ones typically hit hard. He did it a few times and then left. I watched him to see where he was casting and how he was tactically maneuvering the pole and such, so that when he left I would be able to employ his expert skills.
He took off and I hung another worm on "fishhook gallows" just the way he showed me. I casted the worm exactly where he did and handed the pole to Kami. Two seconds later, her pole doubled over and about flung out of her hands. She started reeling this baby in and was telling me, "Dad, you take it...I can't do it!" I told her, "You're doing well, just keep reeling. You don't need my help. You can do it!" She would respond, "NO I can't! I can't do it!" I would again affirm her that she was doing a great job. Eventually she pulled this 2 lb. bass onto the river's edge and the girls were screaming. It was huge! I was coming alive in ways that I hadn't for days, even weeks. And it wouldn't be the first bass we would hook into.
I didn't have a camera, but my mind's camera was working perfectly and I will never forget the picturesque joy in their voices and faces. I will never forget seeing them hold worms between their index finger and thumb trying not to get too slimy. I will never forget the smell of bug spray, the sound of the river, the sight of them holding the fish up in the air as proud as peacocks. It will forever be etched into the tablet of my heart.
Who said that men were to be wild at heart and women were to be mild at heart? It's not true. My girls will never be boys, but that doesn't mean they can't get dirt under their fingernails, wrestle, land a fish or pee in the woods. I want them to be a perfect hybrid of "Fancy Nancy" and "Wild Wendy".
I love they way Heidi pours femininity into their hungry hearts.
But there comes I time when you just have to let your hair down and live on the wild side!
So down with the mild at heart movement! I summon all women to lift their fishing poles and hunting guns and war swords screaming at the top of their lungs, "We're not gonna take it, we're not gonna take it, we're not gonna take it, anymore."