On the Road Part 4: Grandpa, Guest Blogger

In case you need to catch up on the road trip…

On the Road Part 1

On the Road Part 2

On the Road Part 3

And now…a guest blogger, Grandpa:

Fishing is a game of patience.  Grandparents, especially Gpa’s, are known for patience.

Even so, fishing with Piper is a challenge.  Piper is, well…energetic.

She is known for an attention span that sometimes approaches 15 seconds.  This amount of concentration is only achieved when you quickly get to the point of the activity.

This does not always happen with Piper.  Armed with my best Gpa plan, I helped Piper get ready.  This involved putting sunblock on all exposed body parts and outfitting her with a hat. This took more time than she thought the whole trip would last.

Piper promised to listen to me, stay seated in the boat and at all times wear her lifejacket.  We set off in the boat down the cannel by our house.  Within 50 feet I spotted an alligator on a log.  Thinking this would interest Piper, we motored over to take a picture.

She studied the six-foot reptile mere feet from our boat.  “He’s not a big one is he?” she asked.  It’s hard to impress a Piper.  Always has been.

As we trolled into the fishing area, her hat blew off into the water.  It did not faze her a bit.  I trolled over and used the net to retrieve her hat.  By then, she was lapping the deck, forgetting about the plan to stay seated.  Just as I casted the rod toward the lily pads, hoping to grab her attention with a bite, Piper said she was ready to go home.  “Uh..we’re too far out on the boat to go back, Piper,” I said.

“I can see Grandma standing on the dock right over there.”  It’s hard to fool a Piper.

So we trolled back to the cannel by the house. I casted the rod, caught a fish, and quickly handed the rod to Piper.  Although happy to reel in her first catch, she refused to touch the fish. She had another idea.

“Let’s eat it, Grandpa!”

“Only if you touch it,” I said. “We’d have to clean it first.”

Piper thought about this, but she had another idea. “Do you have a cheese stick? I’m hungry.”

We took some pictures of Piper and her first fish.

Then we set the fish free and returned the Piper safely to Grandma.

On the Road Part 3

I grew up fishing with my dad.  My first catch was on a bright yellow Snoopy pole with a bobber.  The red bobber plunged beneath the muddy surface of our pond, and by the proud smile on Dad’s face, I knew I’d won some prize.

I was fascinated with the fish; his bulging milky eyes called to my curiosity. Piper was equally excited about the prospect of fishing with her grandpa. When I proposed the road trip to Florida, Piper immediately said yes. She was not so game about the actual fish part. She lasted about two minutes on the boat before boredom sat it. “I want to go back,” Piper said just as the boat pulled away from the dock. And in the same breath, “Where’s the fish?” Fishing, apparently, took more patience than Piper could muster. (Tune in tomorrow for On the Road Part 4: Grandpa’s Guest Blog)

She didn’t join our fishing trip the next day, but she was waiting at the dock when we returned.  We didn’t disappoint. My brother and nephew caught huge catfishes and hauled them in.  Piper still wasn’t that interested until it came time to do the fish cleaning deed.  “What’s that knife for, Mom?” she asked, innocently. I warned her about what came next. Piper has been raised vegetarian, so unless you count a tofu steak as a kill and I don’t, cleaning a fish for the frying pan was a foreign experience.

“You may want to go inside, P.  Grandpa is going to get the fish ready.”

“Ready for what?”

“Ready to eat, honey.”

“The fish is hungry?”

“No, Grandpa is hungry.  He’s going to cut the meat off the fish. You probably don’t want to watch.”

Piper looked at the table. She saw the fish, the knife, the hose. I waited for the tears.

“Cool. Can I watch?”

And she did.  Every gruesome second. She couldn’t get enough. I had to keep scooting her back from the blood.

“Now what?” Piper asked as she watched the fish fillets in the pan disappear inside the house.

“Now we watch the sun set, Piper.”

On the Road Part 2

On the Road Part 1 (in case you missed it)

Piper wasn’t interested in helping me with the bags.  I’d packed us light on the off chance that Piper wasn’t as cooperative as she could be.  Imagine that? We each had one small rolling suitcase.  Piper could have easily rolled hers through the airport, but she preferred to watch me struggle.  I didn’t have a hand free to hold hers, so I had to resort to annoying nagging as my only parenting tactic.  “Piper, come back” “Piper, stay close.” “I’m right here, Piper.  Keep up.” “Stay by my side, Piper.” I was hoarse by the time we left the terminal.  I wish I’d had one of those kid leashes.

Mommy's Helper The Kid Keeper

No judging here. It was way past both of our bedtimes. We hadn’t had dinner. We weren’t perhaps in the best condition to rent a car and drive out into the Ocala National Forest by ourselves at midnight. We were also suffering from the trauma of airplane bathroom automatic flushers. We could have used a dose of Captain Jack calm.

While I was fumbling with maps in the dark and trying to locate the lights in the rental car, Piper broke out her “guys” in the backseat.


Then she dropped them on the floor one by one and asked me to retrieve them.  “Can’t, Piper,” I said, “mommy’s driving. My hands have to stay on the wheel.”

“I saw your hand on the map. That wasn’t on the wheel.”

“True. I did glance at the map, but I can’t reach your toys.”

“But I need my pony. I can’t play this game without Pinky Pie.”

“Pinky Pie will have to wait until we get to Grandma and Grandpa’s house.”

“How far is that?”

I checked the odometer. “87 more miles.”

“Oops.  I dropped Pinky Cat. I can’t play this game without Pinky Cat.”

We repeated this conversation about every two miles until, of course, she fell asleep just as we pulled into the Grandma and Grandpa’s driveway. And guess what was waiting on her bed? The holy grail of “guys.”

On the Road Part 1

Piper sat next to Captain Jack on our flight.  He wore a tie with miniature multi-colored planes and metallic wings over his pocket.

Captain Jack has been flying airplanes for 28 years.  He flew fighter jets in the Air Force before retiring to a cushy job with Southwest. He was on our flight hopping a ride back to his home after eight hours in the cockpit. Captain Jack and Piper became fast friends. She shared her goldfish. They watched Tangled together. He tried to teach her how to pop her ears during the air pressure. She asked about the coolest cloud he’d ever seen flying.  Captain Jack said he’d once seen a dragon cloud battling a knight cloud.  Piper asked about 200 more questions, and he answered them all.  By the time our flight landed, Piper and I were both a bit enamored with Captain Jack. We hugged him good-bye and watched him walk away down the narrow airport aisle.  Then Piper leaned over and said, “Mom, how did Captain Jack fly our plane from all the way back here?”