Today’s post is part of the Hearts At Home blog hop, encouraging mom’s to lighten up and laugh. Please visit jillsavage.org for more great viewpoints.
“I got one! I caught a fish!” My six year old daughter, Annie, waved frantically from the edge of the dock. She’d developed a thing for fishing since school let out for summer, spending hours casting lines into the lake behind our house and relentlessly teasing the mossy green slider turtles with her fishing bait. Her first catch ever was a striped, twelve-inch long Mayan fish that she’d snagged using a piece of a hotdog as bait. After that, just like that Mayan, she got hooked.
“Yeah!” shouted my husband, Bill who’d been sitting on the patio. He raced the length of the yard in her direction. He was the designated fish “unhooker”, the one who guides the hook out of their gasping mouths and places their wiggling scaly bodies back into the black water.
I ran behind him. “Don’t let her touch it! God knows what kinds of germs are crawling on those fish.”
No doubt, Annie would put her fingers in her mouth, or rub her eye before she’d washed all that slime off.
“Oh,” he said with a snap, suddenly turning back. “Let me get the camera.”
“Oh geez, the fish is going to die! Why do you always to this? Are you going to take a picture of every single fish she ever catches?”
“Yes. I am.”
Annie was blissfully hopping on one foot in front the day’s catch, a slick black catfish, as it lay slithering on the dock.
“Put it back in the water until Daddy comes. It can’t breathe.”
She lifted the pole, peeling the fish off the dock and placed it into the murky water. Immediately, it began thrashing back and forth, splashing us with the dirty water. I shuddered, imagining what bacteria could be lurking in the droplets. Brain eating amoebas? Flesh eating bacteria? I recalled a new article a few summers back about a boy who died from meningitis after swimming in a lake.
Annie gripped the pole tightly and looked up at me with wide blue eyes. Her smile was beaming brighter than the afternoon sun.
“You have to take a shower after this,” I said quietly, wiping her face with my shirt.
“Alright Annie!” Bill cheered as he jogged towards us, camera in hand. “What’d you catch?”
“It’s a catfish! It has whiskers, Daddy.”
“Those are the slimiest of them all.” I muttered.
Bill brushed past me. “Let’s see. Bring it up and let me take a picture of you with the fish.”
“Don’t touch it, Annie.” I cautioned over Bill’s shoulder. “Just hold it up by the pole.”
Annie reeled in the line a few feet and then carefully lifted the pole out of the water. It bowed under the weight of the fat catfish, dangling in front of her like a piñata. She threw her shoulders back, puffed out her small chest and holding tight to the fishing pole, she grinned towards the camera, like a true fisherman.
“I can’t get the fish in the shot. Hold it closer to you, Annie.”
Annie pulled the pole upright into a ninety degree angle. The fish swung like a pendulum on the wire.
I slapped my forehead. “Oh my God. Really? The fish is suffering! You’re going to kill it for the sake of a dumb picture.”
“Relax. The fish will be just fine. It’s got at least five minutes before anything happens,” he said, still angling the camera.
Annie squinted at the fish each time it passed close to her face. The silver hook jutting out of its mouth flashed in the sun beams streaming through the tree branches above us.
“You don’t know that for a fact,” I argued. “Ugh. Just please hurry. Annie, put it back in the water for a minute.”
Annie let the pole drop towards the water.
“No!” said Bill. “Annie, just grab the line and pull the fish a little closer to you. I’ll take the picture really fast.”
Annie jerked the pole upright again reaching for the end of the line as the fish swung back towards her like a wrecking ball. Before she could gain control of it, the slimy fish slapped against her cheek. She scrunched her face and turned away, as the fish swung back out over the water, only to circle around, barreling back towards her. Bill reached out, trying to stabilize the fishing pole and the camera crashed onto the damp wooden planks of the dock. The fish landed against Annie’s chest with a thud.
I gasped. Bill cringed. Annie was a wide-eyed statue with her face pulled as far back into her neck as it would go. The mucky fish squirmed against her thin shirt.
She looked back and forth from me to Bill. Finally, she shrugged. “Eeww?”
Bill and I locked eyes. His face contorted trying to stifle a giggle. Then Annie joined in with a laughing snort that sent us all into such fierce hysterics, I had to cross my legs and cling to the dock railing in desperation.
Bill picked up the camera. “Hold it right there, Annie.” She smiled a wide exaggerated smile, revealing one adult sized front tooth crowding out rest of her tiny remaining baby teeth. Bill snapped the picture and got to work on removing the hook.
Within seconds, the catfish was diving back down into the quiet darkness of the lake.
As our laughter died down, Annie put her little hand in mine and gave it a tug. “Mommy, don’t I have to take a shower now?”
I looked down at all the new little brown freckles that had surfaced on her nose and cheeks so far this summer.
“Why don’t we try to catch another fish first, Peanut?”