Father’s Day Guest Write

So, this is Jacob and I am hijacking the blog for a brief  [after finishing typing, I apologize for lying about this brevity] Father’s Day memory.  We had a weekend that began last Thursday and was packed full of exciting things that I’m sure Liz will capture with greater eloquence at some point, but I wanted to steal the forum for a minute to share the details of an odd story that begins with me taking Cohen fishing (seriously, I know) and ends with him managing to be cute despite acting like the fumbliest of preachermen.

{I should note here that almost all of Cohen’s lines are punctuated with exclamation points.  This isn’t bad writing (well probably it is), but he just exclaimed everything he said this day.  He didn’t say anything, he shouted it with joy}

Its Father’s Day, about 4:00 and we have arrived home from the QC sun-weary and exhausted.  I’m tired, Sophie’s hungry and Liz has taken our dirty clothes straight to the washing machine.  Cohen emerges from the basement with a Million dollar grin, a Toy Story fishing pole, an adult fishing pole, a little box of tackle and a well reheared “Happy Fahdders Day!”  [anyone who knows me also knows that I have an irrational fear of fish that is humiliating to me and injurious to others–sorry amber.  yet, I know that its downright unamerican, unfatherly and altogether negligent to deny my son the memories of sitting on a rock with his father trying to fish.  so, I told Liz I wanted to take him fishing and she enabled my request by flashing a look of loving skepticism and carting Cohen off to the nearest sports authority]

Despite a headache from no caffeine, thunder and dark skies lurking on the horizon and a growl in my stomach louder than the thunder (and an empty kitchen promising no remedies!), we load the poles into the Edge and head down the block to Veteran’s Park as I explain  “we’ll always walk down to go fishing, but today we’re in a hurry.”  The revult you fishing purists feel in your stomach is understandable.

We get out of the car and Cohen squeals “We’re going fishing!  I’m going to catch a fish!”  We trot out to a triangle of rocks where two sit in the mud of the shore and one is just a step out into the water.  I lift Cohen with one arm and plop him down on the “island rock” and began to prepare the bread for the hooks.

Having spent the last ten years not fishing and the ten before that trying to not catch fish when I did, I was a little out of practice.  I had a giant blue lure loaded with bread and ended up loading a bobber on it just so I could have enough time to help Cohen with everything without the lure sinking to the bottom and getting caught in the muck of the pond.  i did a little better with Cohen’s line, threading little chunks of bread onto a bluegill size hook with about 8 inches of line between the bait and the bobber and a little sinker attached just because I remembered how to bite the thing and make it pinch around the line.

We start with me casting for Cohen and then handing the pole over while he enthusiastically “cranked it in.”  I teach him to wait for the bobber to move and then to crank.  Understanding the theory, but not the practice, he takes the pole from me shouts ” its moving! I’m gonna crank it!” and reels it in as fast as I can get it out.

It was in these reelings in that we first noticed the school of fish following his little wad of bread right up to the rock we were on.  I took the pole and told him I was going to catch him a fish.  He was not interested in this at all.  “No!  Cohen do it.” is something of a mantra for him.  He took the pole and I showed him how to hold it just over the school of fish.  “When they nibble on it, you yank it” I tell him.  He looks at the fish for a while then looks around some more.  He looks down at the Toy Story pole he’s holding and, seeing Buzz on the handle, shouts “Buzz Lightyear to the rescue!” and points the pole to the other shore and sends the bait flying.

I rebait the hook, set it over the fish and reiterate “When they nibble on it, you yank it”

He watches some more.

“They’re eating it!” he shouts

“what do you do then?”

He bites his lip and you can see him retracing our conversation.  “Yank IT!” he screams and remembers at the same time. and the bobber, hook and bread come flying out of water and over my shoulder as I dodge back and down like Neo or Trinity.

I pause, eager to catch those fish, but also wanting to restart the fishing with some ground rules.  We go up on shore and go over hook safety, knowing where you are and all that other stuff.  Confident that he won’t be sending a fishhook through my eye, we head down to the island rock to start afresh.

“no Cohen go on that rock.  thas in the water.  I stay up here.”  he tells me

“but you were just on that rock”

“cohen stay up here and cast it himself,” he informs me.

“you’re going to cast it yourself?” I skeptically reply.  He is just two.

“yeah, I cast it and crank it and catch the fish.”

I relent and show him how to do it.  He even lets me cast with him a few times.  Each time he’d announce “Its moving! crank it!” almost as soon as the bobber hits the water.  But after a few of these, he insists that he cast it himself.

he stands on the rock that was situated in the mud on the shore, not really jutting out into the water at all.  From where he was standing, he hits the button on the reel and watch the hook, line and sinker drop onto the rock, into the mud, through the grass or onto the weeds.  Then, with vigor he whips the rod toward the water.  If the bait moves at all, its because he has wound the rod through the line and is whipping the whole tangled mess towards the water.

Each time he does this, the bait flies off and I spend a few minutes untangling everything, reeling in his line, rebaiting his hook and reviewing proper casting procedures with him.  He spends these interludes watching what I’m doing and telling me ” we need more bread to feed the fish.”

“we’re not trying to feed them,” I say,” we’re trying to catch them.”

He takes the pole back and hits the button.  The bobber clunks down on the rock.  He whips the rod forward.  The Toy Story rod catches the line and the line whips around the rod several times as the bread, hook and bobber do loops around the now utterly tangled mess.

“Oh,” he says.  “I missed.” Its an understatment for sure.

“It’s okay,” he tells me.  “I put it in the water.”  And he jams the rod into the muddy water just off the rock.  Te bobber’s floating, the bread is dangling, the pole is jammed in the mud and he’s shaking the handle yelling “I’m catching a fish!”

As my love for the hot mess in front of me grows, I begin to appreciate the silliness of the whole thing.  I didn’t really want to catch any fish anyways.  I’m not even sure if I can take one off a hook.  As my thoughts float off and I decide to capture this mental image for posterity, I notice them.  The fish are back.  How suicidal are these animals?   there must be 8 or 9 of them swimming around this wreck of a fisherman.  They take turns nibbling at the bread.  I’m certain one of them puts his mouth on the hook, eats the bread to the little point and backs off.  Its like they want to get caught.

And here’s Cohen, seriously wanting to catch the fish and woefully unprepared.  He’s like a fire and brimstone preacher shoutin’ hell and fury on his flock.  He wants to catch ’em.  Heck, they want to be caught.  He’s just got no idea how.

“Cohen,” I whisper.  “They’re nibbling.”

“YANK IT!” he yells.  He yanks the whole apparatus out of the water.  mud and water fly everywhere.  A stick with a single slimy stream of algae flips up over our heads and splats on the rock behind us.  The bread floats several yards out into the water for the geese.  The only thing that didn’t come out was one of those daft, daring little fish.

“More bread!” Cohen Demands.  I oblige him.  He shoves the whole wreck right back down in the mud.  Those stupid fish come right on back.  The first fish sort of tears the hunk of bread off the hook.  Cohen wiggles the pole.

“Dada! He ate the bread”

“We want him to eat the hook, though.”

Cohen jiggles the pole some more and stirs up more mud and algae.  The fish continue swirling as if maybe by taunting us we will keep throwing little bread niblets at them in vain.  Cohen jiggles some more and tells me “I’m catching some fish!”

There it was.  Like the pastor trying to save his flock, Cohen didn’t have a damned idea what he was even trying to do.  He was pleased with himself, though.  We continue our routine until our bread is almost gone and its starting to rain.

We pack up our poles and walk back to the car.  I tell Cohen that even though we didn’t catch any fish, I had fun and I loved my present.  I’m not sure if I really wanted to catch fish or just go fishing.  I know I’m hungry and a little weary from untangling so many lines.  He melts me with that smile though and just says “Thanks dada! Happy Fahdders Day!”

As  I start the car and head towards Subway, I tell him we should go fishing again this week.  I mean it, too.

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