Wednesday, June 30, 2010

A Trip to the Fishin' Hole

Last weekend, I took my boys, William and Carson, fishing for the first time. I’m not an accomplished fisherman. Most of the time, when I go on a fishing expedition, I return with little more than a few “the one that got away” stories and a bucket full of worms still grieving the fact that their brave comrades died in vain.
Still, I wanted to take my boys fishing.

So, last Friday, I loaded up my van and took William and Carson on a “guys’ weekend” to the North Carolina mountains. We stayed with my mom and dad, giving the grandparents some quality grandkid time. At night we’d sit around the cabin. As the grown-ups talked, William and Carson spent their time playing with the numerous toys Ma Ma and Pa Pa always keep on hand for them and begging Pa Pa to tell them stories about when he was a little boy.

During the day, while Ma Ma stayed back at the house, Pa Pa, the boys, and I would head out to tackle some nearby adventure. On Friday night we rode Pa Pa’s Gator up trails and around the mountain. On Saturday, we inner-tubed a portion of the New River that flows right by my parent’s property. Then, on Sunday, we loaded up the crew and drove an hour to Linville, NC, where my dad knew of a stocked trout pond.

Of course, a true fisherman is likely to scoff at the notion of fishing in a stocked pond. But keep in mind, my ultimate goal was to insure that my sons’ first taste of fishing was a successful one. They didn’t need to know that the game was fixed, I just wanted them to enjoy the thrill of pulling a fish out of the water.

We arrived just before noon. Already the sun was reaching its peak and beginning to beat down relentlessly. We doused ourselves in sunscreen, the boys donned their Spider-Man sunglasses, and we headed for the fishin’ hole. After grabbing a couple of miniature poles that seemed good fits for my sons, a bucket to hold the fish, a net, and some bait, we headed for the closest pond.

Looking into the shallow water, I could see that we were dealing with some sizeable trout. Part of me wondered if my boys would even be able to reel in such large fish. “Not a problem,” I thought, “Pa Pa and I are here to help.” I couldn’t wait to get the hooks in the water, hand off the poles to my sons, and enjoy watching the excitement on their faces as they landed their first fish.

Of course, one of the things you learn early on as a parent is that, while imagination is busy putting the finishing touches on your perfect plans, pending reality is often lurking somewhere in the background, laughing at you hysterically, and thinking to itself, "What an idiot!" No sooner had we taken up our position by the pond to cast our lines then William, my older son, suddenly became seized with horror. He’d seen one or two people pulling fish from the water as we made our way to the pond. The size of the trout coupled with their mad flailing was enough to make him fearful of these freshwater “monsters.” Taking his cue from his older brother, Carson also panicked and decided he wanted no part of this wildlife adventure.

And so, after days of exhibiting nothing but joyous anticipation regarding their first fishing trip, William and Carson refused to touch the fishing poles. Instead, what was meant to be their fishing expedition turned into me and my dad standing on the side of the pond casting Fisher-Price-sized fishing poles and trying to catch trout. Dad caught three large fish. I caught one and had one slip off my hook before I could get it in the net. William eventually did take the pole for a little while and rejoiced triumphantly when he managed to catch some moss. (Eat your heart out Captain Ahab.)

The funniest moment of the day came after my father had just caught his second fish. He unhooked what was the day’s largest catch and placed it in the bucket. Cautiously, but driven by curiosity, William and Carson approached to grab an up-close look at the large fish. No sooner had the two of them leaned their faces over to see Pa Pa’s latest capture, then that fish flopped up into the air, flailing wildly and almost flying out of the bucket. Terrified and no doubt seeing their short lives flash before their eyes, my boys unleashed screams that I’m sure echoed throughout the southern Appalachians. Startled, I turned from watching my fishing line to see William and Carson rushing for me in tears and yelling, “Daddy, Daddy, that fish was gonna eat us!”

No, it wasn’t the fishing outing I'd quite envisioned, but it was still a fun day and a great memory. Next year, maybe the boys will be up for casting a line, secure in the knowledge that trout are not flesh eaters. Oh well, good fishin’ or not, nothing beats time with my boys. To any dad who has a son, I would highly recommend taking a "guys' weekend." And, if you get a chance, hit a fishin’ hole.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Coffee Tastes Better in a #1 DAD Mug

One of the best things about becoming a dad is Father’s Day. When you’re a little kid, Father’s Day is about making a card out of construction paper and giving your father a really ugly tie. As you get older, you buy the card and try to show Dad you appreciate him by not asking for money or playing your music too loud for a whole day. After you leave home, you mail the card and make a phone call to tell him that you love him (although, admittedly, I have to confess that I sometimes forget to mail the card--sorry, Dad).

That’s if you’re fortunate and still have your dad. For some, Father’s Day involves laying a flower on a departed father’s grave site or thinking about the dad they never knew because he just wasn’t around.

Regardless of one's past experiences, Father’s Day becomes very special for a guy once he has kids. Now he’s the receiver as well as the giver. He’s the one who gets to drink out of a mug that reads #1 DAD. It’s up to him to look at a pre-K finger painting and decipher if it’s a picture of himself, himself with his child, or the Blob attempting to eat a rabid chimpanzee. Best of all, he’s the one who receives the big hugs and gets to hear, “Happy Father’s Day, Daddy. I love you.”

One of my favorite traditions for Father’s Day is when my kids give me their gifts. I love it because they actually pick the gifts out themselves. Every year on gift-giving holidays, Meredith takes the kids to the dollar store or some other relatively inexpensive retail spot and lets them each pick out what they want to give Dad. Since the kids get to pick the gifts on their own, it’s always interesting to see what I’ll get. In my six plus years as a father, I’ve received multiple coffee mugs, pens, pencils, hi-liters, tape, and one bag of stickers. I’ve also covered my office in numerous, hand-drawn Father’s Day cards.

A couple of years ago, my daughter bought me a Spider-Man action figure complete with motorcycle because she remembered me saying that I liked Spider-Man as a kid. I have to admit, it was fun playing with it.

That’s one of the great things about being a father; you get to play with toys again without people thinking you need psychiatric help. Folks see you on the floor playing with an action figure or Hot Wheels cars, and they assume you’re just doing it to entertain the kids. They don’t realize that you’ve forgotten all about the children as you focus on your Lincoln Logs tower or build your army fort. As a dad, you know you’ve crossed the thin line between interactive parenthood and childhood digression when you find yourself getting angry at a child for presumptuously adding an unauthorized Lego to the wall you were constructing or rearranging the toy cars you just spent ten minutes organizing according to model and imaginary horsepower.

The catch is to make sure the kids don’t slip out of the room unnoticed while you’re busy making the world’s tallest building or flying the Millennium Falcon. Few things concern a wife more than the sight of her husband sitting on the floor of the living room alone, simulating crashing sounds as he flies toy planes into each other. When my wife noticed that I was still playing with my Spider-Man motorcycle ten minutes after all the children had left to play outside, she got a little worried. As a result, she established two new rules: No toys for Daddy on Father’s Day, and always keep a professional therapist on speed dial.

Eventually, I made William the official caretaker of my Spider-Man. But, occasionally, if I happen to notice it, I’ll give the Spider-cycle a spin and think, “Now that’s pretty cool.”

As for this year, well, it was special as usual. The kids showered me with hand-crafted gifts. My daughter, Emerson, even took the time to make a huge banner that read “Happy Father’s Day” and tied it to the upstairs banister. Overall, it was a great day. It reinforced what I already knew: Of all the roles I play in life and all the responsibilities I carry, there are none more special to me than those that accompany fatherhood. Make no mistake, coffee just taste better in a #1 DAD mug.

Monday, June 14, 2010

SORRY. No new Dadlosophies this week. I'm off enjoying some time with my wife, Meredith. Today is our thirteenth wedding anniversary. Thanks, Babe, for the last 13 years. Who knows what the next 13 will hold. There's got to be a special place in heaven (or a mental health facility) for a woman who can put up with me that long.

Look for my next post a week from today on Monday, June 21, by noon.

Monday, June 7, 2010

HELP! Calling All Mommies!

This morning's blog post is a bit different. Instead of using the opportunity as I usually do to comment on some aspect of parenting, vent like an emotionally unsettled patient spilling his guts to an online therapist, or share an account of Meredith and my adventures in Mommy and Daddy World, I'm taking the morning to put out a call for help to all the mommies who take time out of their busy and insane world to read Dadlosophies.

For over a year now, I have been working on a book that shares my experiences (and hopefully, a few insights) regarding parenthood. I guess you might consider it an extended version of my blog. But, to finish, I NEED SOME HELP FROM YOU MOMMIES! Specifically, I need to hear from you regarding any frustrations, emotions, feelings of appreciation, or feelings of confusion you felt towards your husband/baby's father during your pregnancy and/or during the first few months after baby arrived.

In other words, if you were sitting down with a bunch of your girlfriends as a pregnant or new mommy and the conversation turned to the things your husband does or doesn't do (or that you wish he would do or not do), what questions would you raise? What feelings would you vent? What frustrations or feelings of bewilderment might you share? What is it that you wish your soon-to-be daddy would get about you as an expecting or new mommy, but doesn't? If you could ask a group of husbands who would give you an honest answer, "Hey, why do you guys (fill in the blank) when we moms are pregnant or have just had a baby?", what would you fill in the blank with?

I know you gals are busy. You have minivans to drive, Cheerios to vacuum out of the crevices of... well... everything, and tons of other mommy responsibilities to attend to. But if you have a few moments to respond with a sentence or two, or even just a question you would love that group of honest dads to answer, that wold be awesome! Also, if you know any pregnant or new mommies, please forward them this link and ask them to respond. The more input the better. SIMPLY COMMENT ON THIS BLOG, send me an email through FaceBook, or shoot me an email at Thanks in advance, ladies. I'm looking forward to what I'm sure will be a very eye-opening read.