Silver Linings

“Once there was a dinosaur and he had zero fish… tra LAAAAAA” sang my four year old quietly to himself, making up the words and melody on the fly. It would have been adorable had he not arrived at musical improv by way of desperate boredom. Hours confined to a small boat with vanishingly little action can be trying for a little boy. But not for Steven.

“This is good for me,” he said from the bow, exercising one of his more admirable qualities. On the team page Steven’s called “The Enthusiasm” but that doesn’t say the half of it. Some enterprising pharmaceutical company should culture his cells for natural antidepressants. The guy is just chock full of go. And he categorically refuses to complain. Ever. At times I wonder if anything is trying for Steven.

“Yeah man” I said, rowing gently against the current. Sensing that there was more to Steven’s statement than his typical positive outlook, and not wanting to get him started, I proceeded cautiously. “Beautiful spring day. The sun’s out. The boys are happy. Who cares if it’s a little slow?”

“No I mean the fact that we’re struggling,” pressed Steven, trotting out another of his reliable traits –an indiscriminate eagerness for debate. “It’s good. I’ve done real well here lately.”

“Right… OK… yeah, so that makes no sense at all,” I said, unable despite myself to let it go. “What exactly is the upside of not catching fish?”

“No, it’s good to be humbled,” he said rolling another cast toward the bank. “You know… makes me reconsider… go back to the drawing board.”

I was reconsidering his facility with BS when a burst of hoots, laughter and splashing turned our heads back upstream.   There sat Jeramie, single-handing his Clacka with  his eight year old in the bow, his five year old in the stern and the hardest working landing net on the river back in his hands.

“They pick up fish!” rasped Steven’s three year old, pointing longingly at the other boat, before shooting his father a reproachful look.

“So, to be clear,” I challenged, seeing in the moment a chance to finish our debate before it started, and maybe even tally a rare win,  “it’s a good thing we’re not doing that? That’s your position?”

Steven didn’t answer right away. He just grinned, turned and rocketed his black double bunny back at the near bank. The silence held through two long slow strips before his line came to life on the third.

“Well… it did prod me to tie on a streamer,” he said with a chuckle.

“FISH!” yelled the boys, jumping to their feet.

I think we’ll call it a draw.

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