Kids are work.
But as I’m fond of saying, if you’re a dad and want to get a “hall pass” from mom, take them with you. Andi lets me go and do all the time, especially if I volunteer to take a kid with me (that usually means Nathan). On Monday, I was off work for the MLK holiday, Christmas was finally over, meaning the last of the grandparents had gone home, Andi was back from the marathon, and I was anxious to get out.
I had hoped my family would join me.
I had visions of all four of us on the boat dragging huge redfish over the side and taking photographs for the blog. However, Sunday evening arrived and Sarah Kate decided she was more in the mood for manicures than fishing. Undaunted, I decided that Nathan and I would go it alone. I woke up, however, with the feeling that something was not right and told Andi “I really don’t feel like going.”
Lesson #1: Always trust your gut.
I proceeded with the getting ready to go, which started with assembly of a trailer dolly (newly purchased the day before because I blew out the tires on the old one…but that’s a story for another day). I packed extra diapers, bananas, Nutri-Grain bars and Capri Suns. I even threw in the DVD player from Andi’s old car, and removed and reinstalled the head rests to make it fit right. Loaded with Shrek 2, we were ready.
We arrived at the boat ramp and after talking with the portly woman to assure her I was not the reprobate who illegally washed his boat on the runway of the historic civil war fort site, we were ready to launch. About that time, two “snow birds” showed up in a truck with Iowa plates, sans boat, to retrieve their ride. A quick check of the marina confirmed they were here to get a boat out of the water as we were doing the opposite. I got our boat in the water, parked, and retrieved Nathan from the truck.
Walking back to the dock carrying Nathan, I watched the two Iowans. They had two flat tires on their boat trailer. One was feverishly working the air compressor, while the other worked the trim and tilt of a boat now sitting high and dry. I pointed out that they had a third tire on my side that was also flat, which they appreciated, but had yet to notice. One of them took it upon himself to cast my dock line off, and wished us luck.
We were off.
We headed out into the Gulf of Mexico to Dixey Bar, my favorite winter redfish hole. I retrieved our bait while Nathan inspected our gear with fervor. We shut the motor off and started drifting. It did not take long before I was not happy with the direction of our drift, so I decided to crank up the motor and move. Nathan rode in my lap happily while I moved the boat and I checked the depthfinder to make sure we were in the right place. We dropped our anchor line and got ready to fish. I gave him a Capri Sun as a reward for being so patient and sat back to watch and wait for a bite.
After about three and a half minutes, I was standing up to check our lines and make adjustments when I heard “KER-PLOOSH!” I looked over the side to find Nathan floating prone in his life jacket. Being the good Daddy, I started laughing and pulled him on board. He was not crying or panicked but looked more surprised than anything. Not having an extra set of dry clothes, we headed immediately for the boat ramp. He shivered the whole way and was obviously cold, but I couldn’t help but smile.
Lesson #2: Always bring a change of clothes.
My two Iowans were still there, having moved about 100 feet, now replacing the tire I pointed out to them. One of them asked if Nathan had gotten tired to which I replied “Nah, man overboard! He fell in so we had to leave.” They asked if I had a blanket to wrap him up in. I told them I did.
I lied, of course.
One of them commented on what a trooper he was. Being the proud Daddy, I beamed as they affirmed what I already knew. He was just happy to be there (and, as per usual, tried to run off). Another group of tourists asked if we’d had any luck. When I replied that we had to leave because he fell in, they laughed. So did I. We drove home with the heater on ‘Damn Near Inferno’ to keep my little guy warm. He warmed up as he listened to ‘Accidentally In Love’ on Shrek 2.
When we arrived home, I got the “and that’s why you always take extra clothes” spiel. I knew that but hey, it was an adventure and one I’ll have a good time retelling at work tomorrow.