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Happy First Fish!

Here’s our 5 year old proudly displaying the first fish he ever caught, just a couple of days ago. Itty-bitty little bluegill — and he went on to catch four more somewhat larger ones while I caught a decent sunfish, a crappie, and a smallmouth bass.

 

He was THRILLED to have caught more fish than I did. 🙂
When I was a kid we threw small panfish like that bluegill back. I have come to learn that panfish spawn eggs by the thousands, and in small lakes like the one we were fishing in they’ll generate a huge population quickly if someone isn’t eating them.
I’m sure the local bass, herons, and cranes eat way more than our little catch, but we took them home.

 

Small fish are good practice for my needs-work filleting skills. 5 year old Victor got an education in where food comes from: with my hands guiding his, he cleaned the very first fish he caught, and he ate it as a lightly breaded quick-fried fish nugget side dish.
If we eat meat, and all of us do but our 18 year old vegetarian, we should be aware of its origins, yes?

 

Also, with such tiny fish there need be little waste. The same light cornstarch & cornmeal dusting and a longer fry in slightly cooler oil, and you can eat the remaining bones and meat like crunchy fish potato crisps. But fishy and full of calcium. Chew carefully. Take small bites.

 

When I was a kid, we threw the little ones back, even though we often suffered food insecurity in the first 10 years of my life, when we lived in Wisconsin and our main income was my dad’s construction work — which tends to be seasonal, oddly enough, up north where it’s cold as hell in the winter. If we’d had more sense, or less pride, or thought of fishing as a way to get food instead of recreation, we’d have eaten them. Interesting, how our minds partition things based on our life experience. Dad was a city kid from Detroit, mom from a middle class background in a small town in Wisconsin. Fishing was something you did to have a good time, not to eat.

 

Well, times are tough and my family lives below the poverty line. I’ll be damned if I’m paying for a fishing licence and not turning a profit on it in seafood! (Side note: I’m trying to write our way above the poverty line — look above, there’s a tab marked “Support me on Patreon.” Look to the right, there are links to places to buy my ebooks. Even picking up a free one makes me a smidge more visible on Amazon or Barnes & Noble or wherever you get it from. I appreciate the hell our of anything you might do to make my dreams come true and my family’s bottom line healthier!)

 

And I hope you’ve had something wonderful in your life recently, something that compares with watching your kid catch his first fish.
I’m still smiling about it. 🙂

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Ho, Ho… Oh, No! My 3 Year Old Knows Santa’s Not Real… And That’s Okay

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Right off the bat, let me put your worst suspicions to rest. I don’t hate Christmas. The kids are getting gifts and have been merrily eating from the jumbo box of candy canes I bought at the start of the month.

Santa’s not banned and I don’t harrumph a Bah Humbug at the mention of his name… though in the interests of full disclosure I will tell you that I do get a bit grumpy around this time of year. I like small, simple family occasions and big holidays give me the hives. Christmas is as big as it gets, holidaywise.

Back three and a half-ish years ago when my wife had little Victor, we had a small tiff over the issue of Santa Claus. My poor long-suffering wife was talking about the fun of telling a kid that Santa is coming and leaving gifts, and I spoiled her dream by saying, “no, I’m not telling a kid that Santa is real.”

She had, at first, those worst suspicions. She already knew that the holidays make me a grumpy-butt, so her suspicions, while not justified, were completely and totally understandable.

Here’s my issue with Santa: I’m an atheist-y sort of person. While I like and practice the principle of extending optimistic trust toward my fellow humans, I don’t much care for anything that involves believing in something without some sort of tangible reason to do so. I view faith as something that leads folks into trouble — trust and compassion, for me, is where the real good is at. So Santa isn’t going to be ‘real’ for my little ones.

BUT.

Santa is a lot of fun. After my wife and I talked things through, she understood that I wasn’t against Santa. I was just against telling a child that something fictional is real. So I have told little 3 1/2 year old Victor that Santa is pretend, like Thomas the Train or the dinosaurs on Dinosaur Train. Santa’s fun, and the story of Santa is fun-pretend, a good story that we tell each other because it tells us what Christmas is all about.

Christmas, to 3 1/2 year old Victor, is not about Santa coming for real. It’s not about Santa bringing presents in the middle of the night. It’s a time when we share presents, and more importantly love, with our family and friends because we love them. It’s a special time of year when we take care to make sure that the people we love know that we love them.

It’s a time for family, and a time for hugs, and a time we do things like tell stories about Santa Clause because it reminds us of all the good things in our lives and the good people we share our lives with.

And if Santa is fiction to little Victor and his littler brother Cuinn, so what? We have a home full of books, their big brother Erik writes graphic novels and comic storylines, mom writes poetry, I write fiction.

We’re a family who knows the value of a good story, and knows that a story doesn’t have to be real to have a real meaning and a real, positive impact.

So, Santa: sorry I’m not playing along. If it’s any consolation, the kids still love you, even knowing you don’t exist.

A LATE ADDITION (about an hour after first publishing): ran across a relevant story: a woman whose seasonal depression apparently stems from the shock of being told Santa isn’t real at age 10.