Last summer we had a special guest. She is the oldest of the five kids we call our own despite the fact they live a couple of states away with their real parents. I remember fondly the first time I cuddled her in my arms and the moment my tear filled eyes last saw her at the Denver TSA checkpoint in July knowing she was now an adult going off to college and a life. I adore her.
Yet I failed her. We brought her here to Colorado for a week of summer fun in the mountains. We went whitewater rafting on the Arkansas River in the brand new Browns Canyon National Monument. We went wildflower hiking in Crested Butte. We kayaked at Ridgway State Park. We ate gourmet s’mores by a campfire. It was awesome. We sheepishly asked her, presuming the answer was no, “so, do you want to go fly fishing?” The response was not what we expected.
She did not say no. She did not say yes. She said “I don’t know. No one’s ever asked me before.” She explained that her younger brothers had been swept away at lakes and beaches to go fishing, while she’d been left behind. She was quite sure she hadn’t been given a choice, but admitted she may give the impression she lacked interest. But she was curious, especially now as the opportunity presented in some pretty awesome fishing waters with the two of us.
It made me think, do we offer our daughters the chance to be hooked on fishing? Or do we give them a Barbie fishing pole too early and let them release the sport after that first pink, squealing try? Is there a gap in time for girls where you don’t even think of taking them fishing? Maybe it depends on the girl, more likely on the mom. Mine never, ever had a fishing rod in her hand in my presence, but her father did and he placed them in mine. She encouraged me to go fishing because it was grandpa time. Mothers, and mother proxies, have to realize that girls need to be given opportunities, even to do the things that seem ungirly. Speak up for the daughters and get grandpas to ask.
She never did fish while here. There were a few failed attempts to get a daily fishing license and then time ran out. She did sit dutifully beside the lake reading her book in the sunshine while Stephen fished and leapt to her feet with enthusiasm and curiosity when he caught a rainbow. She got a taste of the experience, but we can and should do better. Next time we get her in waders. Or maybe better yet, I go visit her at college in San Diego and we try some deep sea fishing. We do both love fish tacos.