Not What I Wanted

“Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted. And experience is often the most valuable thing you have to offer.” 
― Randy PauschThe Last Lecture



With a two hour window Sunday afternoon, I decided to see if I could get in some father-son fishing time. I packed the camera, hawg trough, net, gear, baits, paddles and all the other necessary gear to have a great time. If I could nab some extra Kayak Wars it would be a huge bonus but I really wanted to catch some fish.    

I had located a schooling spot for some whites and hybrids last week so I figured it would be the perfect spot to take Z. We loaded up the tandem and headed out. Launching was fairly uneventful and before long we were setting up on my spot. I lowered the anchor and we started fishing. The wind, boat wakes and open water made for a pretty bumpy time and 10 minutes into fishing I decided to pull up anchor and move. As I tugged on the line I knew something was wrong. I could pull the anchor toward me but it the weight didn't equal what I knew I had tied on. With my polarized shades I could see a large shape rising, an old folding chair, that had tangled my anchor line. This was not what I wanted. With the chop, the added weight and being unable to free the anchor I had to disconnect it. Safety is always paramount and the situation was worsening so I did what needed to be done. 

The next ten minutes I tried to hold us in place to fish against the wind and chop but soon realized fishing in this spot was no longer a possibility. The only way to have a shot at fishing the spot was to bank the kayak, get out and try to make long casts so we did. Again, not what I wanted. A few minutes into bank fishing I could see Z was getting bored. He had constructed a tower of rocks, was milling about and had his head down looking for something interesting in the rocks. Ugh. Not what I wanted. I had to do it. I had to ask about home.

"Z, do you wanna head home? This isn't really panning out for us today," I sheepishly commented, dreading the answer.

"Not really. I was hoping you could show me how to skip a rock," came the answer.

His answer caught me off guard. It seemed pretty simple but teaching an eight year old to skip a rock can be difficult. My patience was already on the short side and this really wasn't what I had envisioned for our trip but ok. Sure. Let's work on skipping a rock. 

A small physics lesson later and a couple of tries he did it! Even better he was able to repeat it. Cool. 
A few tosses later he said he was ready to go home. We piled onto the tandem and shoved off. I had stowed all the gear underneath so he decided to stretch out a bit. I took a quick picture and then paddled for the ramp. 

After I loaded the kayak on the roof rack and started up the hill I asked if he had fun, again dreading the hem hawing that was about to commence. Again, Z surprised me. He said he had a lot of fun. 

Less than two hours removed from the house, no fish caught, little paddling done and me feeling like a failure on what I promised the day would be like this day had been a failure to me. Not at all what I wanted. I had to know more. Was he just being polite?

When I asked him, he said he really liked being able to paddle some, he finally learned how to skip a rock and it was sunny. He had no expectations of catching fish and didn't really care. He wanted to paddle and skip rocks. 

Kids and experience are amazing teachers if you will just listen to the lesson they are teaching. I viewed the day as a failure but to the one who really mattered it was a great success. He had accomplished a new milestone and got to paddle too! 

I included the Pausch quote today as a reminder of what my attitude should be when I don't get what I want. I wanted to catch fish. I wanted him to catch a bunch of fish. I wanted to paddle quite a bit, take some pictures and maybe even bank some KW points. He wanted to paddle and learn to skip a rock. I am so far from being a great dad but I am getting plenty of experience. I hope I can accidentally stumble into more good times for him when I don't get what I want for me. My son is a great teacher. He just doesn't know it yet.