Pessimistic Optimism

Life as I see it… sort of.

Do Fish Eat Sticks on a Picnic?

I just got back from an adventure with my kids.  We drove to a swamp to have a picnic… there is a park next to the swamp so neither, a boat, nor scuba diving gear was needed.  It took approximately five hours to get there.  Actual drive time was about five minutes, the rest was spent on the preparations. 

This is a big step for me to take the kids someplace other than the grocery store or my parents’ house without my wife.  I’m outnumbered and too often, outsmarted.  I thought about bringing our dog but that seemed like I would be biting off more than I can chew (like I wasn’t already).  I easily get fooled into thinking that the dog is on my side.   The next thing I know he chases a squirrel one way, my daughter runs another way and my son sits in the mud eating sticks. I think I made the right decision.

My daughter, who’s three, led the way over the “bridge”.  She liked looking at the ducks in the beginning, but wanted to keep moving.  Too many things to see I guess.  My son, who was in an umbrella stroller, wasn’t happy with my daughter’s decision to move on.  His hands were glued so tight to the railing that anything short of an ice cream cone wasn’t going to pry him loose.  Luckily a bird distracted him enough so that I could push him down the “bridge” with minimal damage left behind.

The troop leader,my daughter, pointed out all the dead leaves on the ground.  ALL of them.  This snail’s pace kept my interest peaked.  Then we hit pay dirt.  A part of the swamp opened up before our eyes that with a little studying we noticed several turtles on moss covered logs and a few more swimming in the water.

“Do you see the sea turtles, daddy?” she asked.  All turtles are sea turtles at this point of her life and that is fine with me.

“I see them.  Can you count them?” I asked.  She likes to be challenged.

She counted to twelve, which was close enough.  I counted about nine, but she might have saw a couple more than me.  She probably has better eyesight, anyway.

The boy and I really enjoyed watching the turtles do nothing much, but our leader told us we must press on.  Who’s in charge here?  Not me.

Another duck swam toward “the bridge” and we all got excited.  It went right under us so we each went to the other side and watched it try to swim into the high reeds.  It fought its way in and we all laughed.  This time we were allowed to stay around for a while because the leader enjoyed every minute of it… except when I refused to let her throw a stick to the duck.  I explained that she needs to keep the stick throwing to our dog… I contradicted myself in less than ten minutes.

We moved on to dry ground for a short stint on a path.  The leader carried a stick and liked smashing the dry leaves.  She really likes leaves for some reason.  She noticed a large colony of ants going berserk where she disrupted the leaves and she got very excited.  She also loves bugs.  The more leaves she moved the more ants there were.  This was fine with me because she got very giddy and my son tried reaching down to touch them, too.  Soon I actually made a decision to head back toward the bridge.  My daughter tried to over rule me, but the numerous ants crawling on her legs were enough evidence to make my decision final.  At this point I didn’t know they were also climbing on me.

On our way back, my daughter insisted on throwing a stick in the water.  I relented on one condition, I get to pick where she throws it in.  That suited her fine, so we looked at the turtles quickly… they were getting hungry (the kids, that is).

“Don’t throw it yet.”

“Okay, daddy.”

We looked at the ducks.

“Not yet.”  I could see it in her eyes that she wanted to launch it.  

 “Okay, daddy.”

We got to an open area of the swamp without any visible animals so I told her to throw her stick.  To my surprise, she broke a little piece off and dropped it in the water.  Immediately a fish came up and ate the piece of stick.  Someone shrieked… it might have been me.  She got a huge kick out of this so she dropped another little piece and the same thing happened.  Even my son got excited on that one.  The fish stopped coming up after the fifth piece.  They probably couldn’t open their mouths any wider with sticks clogging them up.

“Daddy, The fish ate my stick.”

“Yes, he did.  Let’s eat.”

“Can I have jelly and peanut butter, daddy?”

“Of course you can.  Jelly and peanut butter.”  I said it the way that she has said it from the beginning.  She is definitely the boss of me.

The three of us strolled and rolled to the picnic area and enjoyed our jelly and peanut butter sandwiches.  For how much I stressed about taking the kids somewhere by myself, it was a completely enjoyable day… except for the mosquito bites where I swore I sprayed repellent on.  Oh yeah, I think I still have ants in my pants, literally.


August 23, 2006 - Posted by | Humor, parenthood


  1. Good story, that must have been a hilarious adventure! Next time, bring a long a BB gun, I’m sure the ducks will get a kick out of that.

    Your daughter is definetly going to wear the pants in her marriage. I like when she gets pissed off and squeezes your son’s head with her hands…it’s pretty funny (as long as she doesn’t hurt him, of course).

    Comment by Mike | August 26, 2006 | Reply

  2. Now I get it! Do fish eat sticks on a picnic? In fact, they do! Great short story! Very entertaining (I laughed out loud). When is your novel coming out?

    Comment by Colleen | September 3, 2006 | Reply

  3. […] The word “car, car” was repeated often as we drove towards our first destination, then the kids asked me to be quiet, because they saw the cars, too.  We passed a swamp that we go by quite often and as usual my daughter fondly reminisced about our picnic there last year (see Do Fish Eat Sticks on a Picnic?). […]

    Pingback by Morning Drive « Pessimistic Optimism | April 23, 2007 | Reply

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