My little guy is just like his dad. In every way. They love to do the same things—ride bikes, fish, play lacrosse, hockey, fiddle with as many Apple products as possible. And they are totally smitten with one another. It’s like a secret handshake, this mutual understanding, this bond, reinforced by DNA.
When Clarence was 3, we went on our first family vacation, across the border, to a remote location in the Yucatán Peninsula. We stayed in platform tents on the beach. It was idyllic. Mike discovered this place, and all it had to offer, in his unremitting search for new and exciting fly fishing adventures. A passion of his.
One evening, Clarence begged Mike to let him go saltwater fly fishing with him, on a boat, with a guide, all day. Mike was seriously hesitant. Like a typical 3-year-old, Clarence had lots of energy, occasional tantrums (like the big one he had in the Cancún airport upon our arrival). Mike explained, “If you go, we can’t come back a half hour later. We will travel far by boat. You can’t get restless. You have to behave. It’s a small space. You have to be quiet, be cool.” Clarence nodded, indicating he understood the rules.
In that moment, I remembered a dark winter night just a few months prior, when Clarence asked if he could skate on our backyard ice rink after dinner. It was the first winter we had backyard ice. As soon as he could walk, we started making trips to the local ice rink, my back uncomfortably hunched, shuffling him around the rink over and over again. Clarence was born to skate. He loved nothing more. But he wanted more. To do it on his own. To make strides and turns with skill and confidence.
That night, we dressed him up in hockey pants that fell to the top of his tiny skates and sent him out. Minutes passed, then an hour, and then another hour. We kept watching from the kitchen window as he worked the ice, wondering and marveling at his persistence. Should we tell him it was time to come in? Wasn’t he tired? When he finally returned, his cheeks were red, his hair soaked with sweat. He was grinning ear to ear. We didn’t need words to understand his aim, his determination, his success. He got what he was after.
So, we made necessary preparations for the fishing trip. Sunscreen, water, snacks, proper clothing, and, of course, Dum Dums. The latter had always been in Mike’s back pocket for times when typical parenting protocols just wouldn’t cut it. So they went, fished, lollipops were distributed (note the blue stains around his mouth)—and it was great.
That night at dinner we asked Clarence what he thought about his big adventure. He had a gleam in his eye as he recounted some of the day’s excitement. And then, he said, “But I don’t think I could ever do that again.” We probed. “You mean you wouldn’t want to fish again? Go out in a boat?…” Clarence paused and tried to explain, “No, I like fishing, but it was sooooo hard, you know, to be good, all day long…” Mike and I exchanged a wink and a nod, proud of our little guy’s remarkable effort.
Needless to say, that was the first of many exotic fly fishing adventures for Clarence and his dad. At 8, he no longer struggles to cope with the elements of each trip, only to catch as many fish as possible. I have no doubt he will be a first-rate fisherman. Just like his dad.