“All we’ve got is moments of grace we savor more than not” – Chuck Ragan “For all we care”
The Perfect Setting
A quiet lake is at times the only thing required to reset your perspective. And, often times those quiet lakes are hard to find, especially when kids are in the mix. Over the last few days I found that quiet lake. It was beyond the main strip and hidden behind dense wood. A dirt path winded through the woods and eventually broke off to the right, where the lake was peaking through the tall cedar trees. I parked and unloaded my gear, a few fishing poles, worms, water, and a Spongebob tackle box. My boys exited the rear seat and we made our way to the only clearing which allowed a cast into the water. The water was calm and looked more like a mirror for the sky than a body of liquid. In the distance you could hear birds of all kinds singing their evening song. The site was breath taking.
A Lake Disturbed
I bent down to begin setting some fishing poles for the cast out. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a large object hurled through the air. A large rock made a loud splash echoing throw the woods and disrupting the lakes mirror like calm. My oldest had tossed a large rock into the water. “Hey buddy, thats a sure way to scare all the fish away”, I said to him a scornful voice.
“Sorry, dad, but that rock was huge!” He replied, as he ran off with the apparent intent to find yet another large stone.
As I corrected my oldest son, My youngest walked into the water up to his ankles, getting his shoes and socks completely soaked in lake water. “Olliver!!!! Why would you do that? Now, your socks and shoes are wet!!”.
“Sorry, daddy, I am sorry. I didn’t know” he said with a quiverly lip. He just realized the discomfort he would now endure with cold wet shoes. Kids often don’t have the foresight needed to understand action and consequence.
I baited the hooks and casted both fishing poles out into the now slightly disturbed lake, handing them off to my sons. Within seconds, my youngest had a good bite and reeled in a nice bluegill. Than he had another and another. In between catches he ran off, kicked rocks, pulled grass out from under the trees, and kicked stones into the water. Soon, my oldest got a bite, set the hook and reeled in an large bass. I unhooked the big fish and re-baited his pole. I look behind me to find him playing with bugs by a large rock. “Hey, you want to come grab your pole?” I said in a slightly concerned voice. It appeared all this awesome fish catching was not as cool as some beetles under a branch.
“Oh, yeah, sure!” he said as he ran back to cast out once again. His hands now covered in mud. As he watched his bobber, his legs appeared to wiggle out of control as if his body was yearning to run off into the woods to further explore this place.
Processing the Environment
The rest of the fishing session yielded a large amount of fish caught, about 13 all together. Yet, the boys would run off at any given moment, breaking sticks, smashing bugs and hurling rocks into the lake. Their lack of focus troubled me. Even with a successful fishing endeavor, their attention was bouncing all over the place. Meanwhile, I just wanted to sit and gaze out into the calm. But, what you will find in parenting is that you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you just might find, you get what you need (The Rolling Stones had it right).
As an adult we process our experiences a bit different than a child. When we see a quiet lake, we want to look out in a calm state and take it all in. We understand what this places is. Our lives are often filled with chaos and constant hustle, we need to sit still for a moment. Kids, on the other hand, are just figuring this thing out. They process their expereinces much differently. They, unlike us, are on an exploration expedition. They seek to understand this quiet lake, not for the peace it holds, but for the senses it provides. Looking is for suckers, in their mind.
My boys where processing their environment. They did not just want to “see” the lake. They wanted to hear the sound of a rock crashing into the water. The feel of the cool water on their feet. The feeling of lake mud on their hands. For my sons this was not the time to sit back and relax, this was a time to explore and fill their minds with information. This was a time to understand what it is they were experiencing in the most chaotic way possible; however, sometimes in the chaos they figure things out. No one ever explored and discovered by sticking to rules and order.
Embrace the Chaos
So, I let them run in the dirt, throw stick and stones, flip rocks to find bugs and feel the scaly skin of a fish. One day I hope they look back on these moments fondly and understand why it is I took them to these places. I want them to appreciate a quite lake because they once enjoyed disrupting that silence. I want them to know that just outside their door is an adventure and they can be taken daily if they know how to mix up the order. We can all use a quiet lake and a little bit of chaos every now and then.