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My Best Fish Story (Thanks, Mom!!)

   Part of my "real job" involves interacting with kids daily as a high school Psychology teacher. I have come to believe that people are born with a predisposition toward certain interests and activities. Beethoven, Bill Dance, and Michael Jordan were all born with something in them that drew them toward a certain field. But simply having a predisposition to something is only half the battle. Julia Child needed exposure to cooking before she realized she had a passion for it and Herschel Walker needed exposure to football before he could realize his potential in that area. There are a lot of unhappy people strolling this earth who were simply never exposed to something they might have become passionate about had they experienced it at an early age. There are undoubtedly many potential John Grishams and Barry Bondses sitting in jails today simply because they were never exposed to the things that might have enriched their lives or revealed their special talents.

    I also believe that for most of us, there is a window of opportunity during which we will either develop a passion for something or fail to. This occurs during childhood. Children exposed to music at an early age may not become instant musical child prodigies, but they will likely become music lovers for life. Those with god-given musical talent might one day play to large audiences, but even those with lesser abilities will be in the crowd enjoying the show. Exposing children to a variety of experiences is one of the keys to unlocking the various potentials God has granted them, and this responsibility lies largely with parents.

    My predisposition is a fascination with moving water. I spent a significant portion of my childhood in a single-parent home: me, my sister, and my mom. Despite the hardships of raising and supporting a family alone, my mother found as much time as she could to identify and nurture my interests. She didn't know a thing about fishing (still doesn't), but saw value in my early zest for the sport. When I (age 7) burst into the house yelling that I saw a fish in the creek across the road, I know the last thing in the world she wanted to do after a hard day's work was to take me fishing. It would have been so much easier just to turn on "Gilligan's Island", distracting me into forgetting the creek and the fish.

    But she didn't. Mom hauled out an ancient Zebco 202 (the green one that came with the fiberglass rod) and found a cork and a sinker. She fashioned a hook out of a tiny safety pin (I always went barbless back then) and grabbed a chunk of ham and followed me to the bridge that ran over the creek, ham in one hand and loyal daughter in the other. When we reached the bridge, Mom yanked out 15 feet or so of line and watched as I lowered that ham into the water time and again. I'd love to tell a story about a massive strike and epic fish battle but, truth be told,  I simply reeled in my line one time and there was a nice little bluegill on the end of it. We all ran back to the house and put the fish in a bucket, because I wanted to keep it as a pet.

    Needless to say the pet didn't last very long, but my love of moving water did. I felt like the absolute King of the World when I caught that fish from that little creek, and I soon began exploring it and catching more fish from places other than the bridge. Mom never went much on those outings but never failed to inquire about my fishing forays to the creek. By finding the time and energy to take me fishing on that one day, my mother exposed me to what has become one of my greatest passions. It might never have developed if Mom had put me off or distracted me the way I too often catch myself doing with my own kids. She also showed a genuine interest in my pursuits despite not having an interest in pursuing them herself, a simple, selfless act that made me view catching bullheads and suckers as worthwhile pursuits. I still do. Thanks, Mom!

It's been 27 years since I caught this, my first fish from moving water. My mother had no way of knowing the impact of this moment on my life, but she took the time to allow it to happen. Thanks, Mom!!  


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