high weir

September 3, 2006

what driveways are for

Filed under: Fatherhood — jstreed1476 @ 7:43 pm

clays-scorecard.jpg

Friday night we got a cheap, used basketball hoop–the rollaway kind where you fill up the base with water–and Clay loves it. The little scorecards above are his record of the shots he made the first day we had it. (Shots made, not points scored.) I should mention that I lowered the rim to about 8.5 ft or so. He’d make about 3-4 shots, then run over to the notepad to mark them down.

He does pretty well on regulation 10′ hoops, too; I lowered it because I want him to develop good form first.*

Watching your kid keep trying at something challenging is one of the great experiences of parenthood. It’s great fun to join him in a little shootaround, but I also love watching from the window as he fires up shot after shot. He smiles, scowls, talks to himself, chases the ball all over, tries goofy stuff like firing it up through the net.

Thirty-five dollars well spent.

* Also I can make like Shaquille O’Neal :-)

July 29, 2006

Scourge of Bullheads Everywhere

Filed under: Fatherhood — jstreed1476 @ 3:33 am

Scourge of Bullheads Everywhere

July 26, 2006

“A mouse is miracle enough to stagger sextillions of infidels . . .”

Filed under: Fatherhood — jstreed1476 @ 2:08 am

I’ve always liked Sir Thomas Browne, but somehow I overlooked Thomas Traherne until just recently. They wander the same orchard, it seems, but pull down different fruit. Here’s a taste of his recollection of wonder as a child:

The corn was orient and immortal wheat, which should never be reaped, nor was ever sown. I thought it had stood from everlasting to everlasting. The dust and stones of the street were as precious as gold: the gates were at first the end of the world. The green trees when I saw them first through one of the gates transported and ravished me, their sweetness and unusual beauty made my heart to leap, and almost mad with ecstasy, they were such strange and wonderful things. . . . Eternity was manifest in the light of the day, and something infinite behind everything appeared, which talked with my expectation and moved my desire.

A good part of his Centuries of Meditation describes how his simple, childish wonder at the world became “eclipsed . . . by the customs and manners of men, which like contrary winds blew it out.” As the father of boy of six, I can see the shadow of that eclipse advance and reduce to the merely ordinary things Clay would have found amazements only a season ago. How strange and foolish that, watching him held fast by a spectacle of swirling tadpoles, I can’t help thinking that this instant, here, now, is the last time he’ll be so moved by something so small and simple. I’m usually on guard against that kind of sentimentality, but it slips through sometimes.

Perhaps it’s not an entirely bad tendency. Or perhaps it can be given a bit of perspective by Annie Dillard’s wry observation:

Young children have no sense of wonder. They bewilder well, but few things surprise them. All of it is new to young children, after all, and equally gratuitous. Their parents pause at the unnecessary beauty of an ice storm coating the trees; the children look for something to throw. The children who tape colorful fall laves to the schoolroom windows and walls are humoring the teacher.

Or perhaps a parent’s imagination works upon a child’s engagement of the world as a remedy and a preventative.

July 3, 2006

The Young Man and the Crick

Filed under: Fatherhood — jstreed1476 @ 1:56 am

Like a lot of 6-year olds, Clay sometimes promotes a fun activity from “mild interest” to “consuming passion” without warning. This summer, fishing has gotten the nod. He asks every day if we can go.

Sadly, I am not an outdoorsman by nature. Despite a rural childhood spent scouting and in summer camp, despite a father who loves hunting, I’m basically an indoorsman. I like hiking, especially in fall and winter, and I’ll sit still to watch animals and listen to the woods without complaint. But I don’t have much Field & Stream cred; excepting insects, I’ve killed very few animals on purpose, and I haven’t dressed, cooked, or eaten any of them. My idea of a bad time is a nice day spent getting spurned by fish and fowl. You get the idea.*

BUT, a guy should step up for his kid, right? So a fishing license is in my future, as are early mornings creekside, slapping mosquitos and watching bobbers. Also, Candy, who loves fishing, got her license at the first hint of interest from Clay, so I’m feeling a bit left out. I think I still have the skills–I’ve never had a problem baiting hooks or anything like that–so the main thing to remember is: I’m fishing because I love Clay, not because I love fishing. And watching him do anything he loves–casting a line, playing a sport, eating noodles, whatever–is just fantastic.

BTW: The Iowa DNR has a great page on tips for fishing with kids. My favorite: “Leave your fishing rod at home.” It’s kind of sad when the dad catches a bunch and his son doesn’t get a nibble.

* I love Hemingway’s story, “The Big Two-Hearted River,” but for me it’s like a peek into another world. I mean, I suppose I can imagine making buckwheat pancakes over an open fire and slathering them with apple butter and wrapping them in wax paper for lunch on the river, and knowing that you have to grab the trout with a wet hand so you don’t wipe away the mucus that keeps their scales safe from infection. But then I’d be someone else, I guess.

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