Have you ever noticed how children mirror their parents? This was quite apparent to me when I took my kids who were 4 and 5 year-olds to go fishing at the lake. I thought it would be a precious time of bonding as Daddy was at work and they had never been fishing before.
Now understand, I am a pretty adventurous gal. I have deep sea fished, hunted wild boar, climbed mountains, am a black-belt in Karate and have been known to rough it up with the guys on the basketball court. I guess I thought I was a pretty tough cookie.
What was I thinking? Despite my love for adventure, I have zero desire to touch a fish, let alone handle worms and other forms of live bait. There I was as the "mom of the year" thinking I had it all planned out while I packed the poles, the worms, the tackle, and the sunflower seeds for spitting. What I forgot, however, is that someone would have to bait the hook, meaning touch the worms. And if, in some odd fashion, we did catch a fish, someone would have to take it off the hook.
So there we were my two little protégées and me on the side of the lake with our fishing poles and worms. I tried to be brave, really I did. I am a woman of power and authority right? I reached into the worm bucket and felt the slimy, slithery little rascals between my perfectly manicured fingers. As I pulled the worm out it I was taken back as it was about 7 inches long! Then it squirmed frantically. I threw it to the ground with a loud scream and panic on my face. Payton and Alexia just looked at me with big eyes and said, "Did it bite you, Mommy?"
Not wanting to scare them from future worm experiences I just said, "No, honey, it just jumped out of Mommy's fingers. We will find a better one."
I reached in again and pulled out another 7 inch worm. "What in the world are they feeding these suckers? Steroids or what? Why are they so big?" I thought to myself. The hook was less than an inch so it became apparently obvious that I would have to cut the worm into sections.
I looked in the tackle box but there was nothing to cut that little varmint with. Still looking at me as their hero, my two precious kids just said, "Cut it with your fingernails, Mommy!"
I mustered up great courage and squeezed the slimy worm until it broke in two and seeped slimy juice all over my hand. "Ok," I thought, the hard part is over. I put it on the hook and we cast our lines into the water. And we waited...and waited...and waited.
About 10 minutes later, I had to get creative. So I told stories about patience, faith, being fearless, never giving up, Jonah and the whale and I even think I threw in the story about Noah’s ark, just for fun. The aim was anything that passed time as we waited for a nibble.
Finally, Alexia's bobber plunged beneath the surface. She screamed. I screamed. It was like a cut from the movie, ET. I told her to reel it in slowly. As the fish surfaced, I was thrilled to see she had caught a four inch little perch.
"I can handle this," I thought, as I gathered my courage to remove the hook from its mouth. Payton and Alexia were so proud of that fish. Little did they know what mental anguish their "I can do anything" mother was going through, thinking about touching the fish with her hands.
Looking at me with eyes wide open, they said, "Mommy, take it off the hook so we can put it back with its family."
I reached out for the fish to remove the hook. It seemed the closer I got to putting my finger in its mouth, the bigger it looked. Finally, with great hesitation, I grabbed the fish, stuck my finger in its lips, when all of a sudden it wiggled sending me into panic. I screamed...then the kids screamed. I dropped the pole and the fish. And the kids just took off running.
"Did it bite, Mommy, did it bite?," they yelled from about 20 feet away. "No," I said. "It must have swallowed that jumpy worm because it just jumped out of my hands."
Realizing the need to provide a positive experience for my kids, I picked up the pole and said to myself, "I can do this!" I grabbed the fish, took out the hook and carefully placed it in the water.
From that moment on I prayed for no more fish until Daddy came.
Have you ever noticed how your reactions are mirrored in the life of your children? I thought about it after our fishing trip and realized that whether it is fear, panic, anger, jealousy or rage, children watch their parents to determine their own reactions to life. When I was courageous, they acted courageous. When I screamed, they screamed. And when I panicked, they panicked and even took off running.
Remember: What you do in moderation, your children will do in excess. So be careful little mouth what you say. Be careful little mind what you think. Be careful little heart what you keep. For a child is always watching thee.