It wasn’t that long ago that Zac came running and said “Levi and I went fishing today, and I really liked it so TAKE ME FISHING, DAD.”
As it turns out, I’m not a fisherman. I’m more of a wisher-man, as in “I wish I liked fishing as much as real, actual fisherman do.” But, as you know, when your kid wants to do something, you zealously create space for it to happen, even at the risk of their losing interest and you losing money, which is why we have garage sales with elements of our own forgotten hobby history: golf clubs, hockey equipment, bagpipes, and so many bowling balls. But that’s part of the fun (and expense): you never know what will stick. In fact, the more passionate they are, the more parental energy (and money) that goes into it.
Let’s say your kid wanted her own pet turtle. She cried when she saw the baby turtles at the zoo and wondered if you could take one home from the zoo that very day. You say “no” because you’ve already been kicked out of a different zoo for reasons you’re still not ready to talk about.
Meanwhile, your daughter constantly draws pictures and doodles of turtles and endlessly tells you what she’d name a pet turtle, if she had a pet turtle (sweet eyes at you). “Shelly” is her first idea, but after thinking about it she realizes that name is far too predictable, so she changes it to “Fido”, because who expects a dog name for a turtle? Then she switches to “Donatello” because you, her parent, grew up in the 90’s and that’s one of only four possible names for a pet turtle. She asked you for a turtle name idea, and you randomly said “oh, I dunno… Raphael? Leonardo? Donatello? The fourth one?” … you were trying to remember the fourth one’s name and couldn’t because everything that happened before the pandemic now seems like a fevered dream from a previous life, and, by the way, it’s Michalangelo.
Your daughter April wants her own turtle — her own Donatello. You drive her to the pet store NOW and get a turtle, an aquarium, a lid, and a “My First Turtle” box kid that includes food, bedding, and a pamphlet in 9 languages with questionable pictures and useless information like Your New Turtle needs a lot of love and care!!! …as if you didn’t already know that. It’s so obvious! Why would they need to put that in the pamphlet? Would a person be SHOCKED to hear that a pet they just bought has to be cared for and loved? You marvel at the mysteries of the obvious but shut up when you hear yourself saying to your daughter “Your new turtle needs a lot of love and care, sweetie!!!”
Zac did not want a turtle. He wanted to be a fisherman. In fact, Zac had already become a fisherman. What he was really doing was notifying me about the new reality, namely that I am now the father of a fisherman. Of an angler. His update came with a notice: we are going to go and buy several fishing poles. Today.
The passion kicked in and, lo and behold, here we are. I bought two “fishing sticks” that come with “invisible string” and “neon worms” that fish are “dumb enough” to bite with their mouths that get “hooked” on the “hooks” so we can somehow eat them as “dinner”.
I actually know more about fishing than it sounds like, but not much.
Zac, on the other hand, learned from his angler pro friend and fellow Middle Schooler Levi, Levi’s angler dad, and probably some YouTube videos about fishing, maybe hosted by one of those braying millionaire mom’s-basement-dwellers who talk about subscribing to their channel and hitting that bell! That’s about all you need these days. Well, that and fishing equipment. After a few trips here and there, we had our ugly sticks, my fishing license, and a lot of excitement about fishing together. In fact, we’ve fished on several occasions and have caught absolutely nothing each time, which I hear is the first step to becoming a real fisherman — or, in this case, the father of a fisherman. All of the nothing helps you appreciate the something, of which you hope is big enough that the live bait won’t openly laugh at you.
We will fish on, dear friends. And Zac shows no signs of giving up on his new and invested-upon hobby. Why, even a retention pond, which certainly has no fish in it (lest a municipal drainage system truly went bonkers), was recently home to his angling. Looky here:
Oh yes, we will fish on, dear friends. And you’re all invited to our forthcoming garage sale, tentatively scheduled for a few months after Zac moves on to disc golf.