children • education • parents
relationships • marriage • the elderly


On Glasses, Fishing, and Five-Year-Old Boys

September 3, 2019 by

Fishing with a five-year-old is an adventure. In the local public pond, river, or your secret fishing hole, nothing ups the ante like adding a five-year-old to the equation. As I watched my glasses disappear with a distinct and distant splash on a recent July afternoon, this fact was brought home to me in a way I never could have imagined.

My oldest boy, Bowden, received a fishing rod for his fifth birthday, and over the last few months has become more or less able to cast it and reel it in by himself, provided there are no tree branches or bushes or neighbor dogs or other things to get tangled with nearby. The safest place for him to cast from is a rowboat in the middle of the pond, far from any of these hazards.


Father and son holding fish they caughtAuthor with his son

Extra time on a Saturday afternoon seems a rare thing with three kids under the age of six, so when my wife looked at me and said, “I got this. Why don’t you take Bowden and do something?” we did not need to be told twice. We grabbed our rods, and a short time later, were casting for bass in one of our favorite weedy sloughs.

This time I rigged Bowden’s line with a rubber “wacky worm” on a weedless hook. It’s a very simple method that largemouth bass fall for every time. Before long he had caught two nice two-and-a-half pounders to my one. Then it happened. I was just looking down to change my tackle when something whisked past my face and I watched in amazement as my new prescription polarized fishing shades were departing on an adventure of their own.

I would like to wax eloquent about all the deep philosophical insights that came to me at that moment, but to tell the truth, all that went through my mind as I watched the glasses fly was, “I can’t believe this is happening.” In a split second, I plucked the rod out of my son’s hands, gingerly took up the slack line, and started to reel. Against all probability and to our mutual relief, my glasses came gliding back across the top of the weeds, still hooked by the nose bridge.

I reflect on this time-honored rite of passage: kids fishing with their dads, and dads fishing with their kids.

Later, after returning home with just one more fish for the day, (a nice four-and-a-half pounder caught by Dad) I reflected on this time-honored rite of passage. Kids fishing with their dads, and dads fishing with their kids. How many tangles did my Dad (mostly) patiently undo for me? How many near misses did he endure with fishing hooks whizzing by, a whisker away from an eye or an ear? How many early mornings did we share watching the mist rise over the water, listening to the bullfrogs croak?

For now I am bracing myself, because my next son, Zane, is eager as anything to get out with Dad. Before I know it, my daughter will be next.

But isn’t this what it’s all about? J. B. Priestley said it better than I ever could: “To show a child what has once delighted you, to find the child’s delight added to your own, so that there is now a double delight seen in the glow of trust and affection, this is happiness.”

Arlo Meier lives with his wife, Edna, and their three children at Fox Hill, a Bruderhof in upstate New York.



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