I know that somewhere along the line I mentioned that my daughter Camden, an orthodontist, her architect husband Andrew, and my two grandchildren Benjamin, 5, and Alice, 7, had decided to move to Bluffton from Charlottesville, Va.
Like a dream come true, not only have they made the move, but karma stepped in and, of all things, while they were house-hunting my neighbor casually informed me that he was moving away.
Talk about the theory that some things are just “meant to be,” they purchased his house and now reside 30 or so yards from my back door. For any of you grandparents out there, I can only imagine how jealous you must feel about now.
So, I am now back in the child-rearing business and business is a booming. Both my daughter and her brother, Logan, are in their 30s and boy, have things changed with this newest generation.
Back when my kids were young, computer games were limited to Pac Man and Space Invaders with the great outdoors taking up the majority of their free time. It didn’t take me long to figure out that my two grands already know more about computers than I do, even after my 30-something years sitting in front of one 12 hours a day in my advertising agency.
Now retired, I don’t miss that lifestyle one bit. I have learned that on any given day out on the water, whether it’s fishing or simply exploring, I learn more in an hour out there than I ever learned sitting in front of that computer screen.
If you are wondering where I am going with this, it is how I might guide these youngsters away from the electronic world into the world of nature. In hindsight, I wish I had more children. Being the youngest of five and without a doubt probably the most troublesome for my folks, my parents never gave up on me.
Giving credit where credit is due, my dad ingrained love for the ocean into my blood stream. We shared the most incredible and memorable moments in my life while fishing together out on the deep blue sea. No matter what the times threw at me and in turn I threw at him, it was on the water that all was forgiven and our bond became unbreakable.
Now with Benjamin and Alice a stone’s throw away, God willing, I can create such a bond with both of them by getting them outdoors as much as possible. Since they arrived, it has been rainy and unbearably hot, but between downpours I have been able to take them fishing a couple of times.
I have learned that patience is the key with kids, especially younger children. If the fishing gets slow, I let them play with the live shrimp in the bait bucket or other live baits I have brought along. If you do this, they are happy as clams. Constantly telling them they are holding the rod wrong, or some other criticism, is the quickest way to turn them off to this marvelous sport. As for my fishing excursions with my two newest understudies, I picked spots that, first, were in the shade and second, where they would have the best chance of getting a tug on their line.
After showing them how to hook a live shrimp, their baits weren’t in the water for more than a minute when they both hooked up. Alice had a redfish, Ben had a trout and their shouts of glee could be heard the next county over.
Before releasing the fish, they closely inspected their catches and hesitantly held the fish for a picture or two. In the next hour they caught more reds, more trout, some giant croakers and even caught three small mangrove snapper.
When the biting slowed down, they spent the rest of our excursion handling the remaining live shrimp and mud minnows in our bait bucket. They had a ball, I had a ball watching them and, best of all, they can’t wait to do it again.
Right now, I am about the luckiest grandpa on earth during these stressful times with Covid and such. Being outdoors with my daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren is the way to go. All that fresh air, a break from wearing a mask, and teaching a new way of life to my grands has me grinning from ear to ear.
“Lucky,” you say? “Blessed” is a way better word.
Collins Doughtie, a 60-year resident of the Lowcountry, is a sportsman, graphic artist, and lover of nature. firstname.lastname@example.org