Dear Caroline – Father’s Day 2017
This letter appears in the June 2017 issue of Lake Norman CURRENTS Magazine in my "Thoughts from the Man Cave" column. Please visit www.lncurrents.com and click on "View current issue online" to read the rest of the issue.
A Fish Story
By Mike Savicki
Father’s Day 2017
Dear Caroline -
For Father’s Day this year, I’d like to tell you a story about how a little four-year-old girl caught her first fish. Yes, Caroline, before you ask, that little girl is you. And because I was lucky enough to be there when it all happened, and because I’m all about teachable moments, I’d like to share some lessons I learned while watching you that recent afternoon on the lake.
To begin, let’s see, for the longest time, you had been asking me to take you fishing.
“Can we try to catch a fish today?” you’d ask me over and over and over, sometimes even appearing with a fishing pole or stick with a ribbon tied to it in hand. “I know I can do it, and I’m not scared of fish.”
Because I’m not a great fishing daddy, and because I wasn’t sure I’d know how to console you if and when we did not catch anything, I’d drag my feet and think of lots of silly reasons why we shouldn’t do it. Truth be told, I was kind of afraid myself.
But on one late spring weekend day, when my friend Bruce called and volunteered to bring his two boys, Brady (10) and Mason (9), along to serve as tutors and co-conspirators, I agreed. Both Brady and Mason love fishing and have a knack for pulling in fish that are almost as big as they are. It’s almost like they know the language of fish.
And also, I figured you’d be in good play date hands if things got boring. At least you’d have friends to talk Star Wars. I think it’s pretty cool that you like The Dark Side.
So Brady baited your hook then Mason showed you how to cast. Bruce and I just watched.
“OK, Caroline, this is the hard part,” Brady said as he and Mason turned to rig their own poles and cast out their lines. “You have to wait for the fish to bite so hold on tightly and let us know if you feel a pull. If it gets hard we will help you reel it in.”
Almost immediately, something magical happened.
“I caught a fish, I caught a fish,” you said with eyes as big as saucers and enough energy to power a carnival ride. “What do I do now?”
We couldn’t believe it. Both boys dropped their poles and raced towards you. Feeling your energy and excitement, yet trying to balance their joy and amazement with the reality that there was still work to do, they slowly and carefully walked you through reeling the line then lifting the bending rod up and out of the water all while an upset fish was trying to break free.
“Look daddy,” you exclaimed while jumping up and down, squirming almost as much as the fish. “I caught a big squishy fish with whiskers. I want to keep him as a pet.”
Watching through tears of love, joy, wonder and amazement, I was awestruck. I gave you a hug and clapped. You suggested we throw him back so he could swim back to his home and grow up to be an even bigger fish some day. I agreed.
Now, Kiddo, for the lessons.
When your fishing pole began bending after you hooked that fish, I saw coming from your soul an almost uncontainable sense of wonder, amazement, happiness, pride and self-confidence. No matter where you go or what you do as you grow and mature, Caroline, always put yourself in situations where there is that same opportunity and possibility for discovery. The world around us still holds so many treasures to discover and it is up to you to find them.
Releasing that fish, especially when both Brady and Mason were ready to clean and cook it on the spot, showed an amazing level or maturity. I was proud of your decision. Please keep that level of selflessness, care and compassion towards other people, animals, plants and resources in your heart. Our world needs more people to treat it the way you did that fish.
Lastly, I'll be honest with you, Caroline, it is tough keeping up with you as you grow and change. For every instance I’m lucky enough to be there with you there are those times I miss seeing you doing something else new, maybe it is reading your first word at school or climbing higher up a tree than ever before, but please remember even when I’m not there, or Mommy misses something, too, we are proud of you simply for trying. Never be too afraid or timid or shy to step outside your comfort zone and into the unknown. Just do it, OK?
So Happy Father’s Day, Munchkin, and thanks for continuing to bring that special daddy – daughter sense of joy to my life, especially on that day you caught your first fish. I will always remember it.
Now, will you please put your toys away and clean your room?