So, Saturday, I posted the following on the dark hole that is called FaceBook:
“sitting at the camp, listening to the rain that foiled Termite’s duck hunting plans this morning, wondering which came first–his tenacity or the nickname?”
One friend responded:
“You can’t let rain stop the duck hunt. Misery Loves Company is a book I think Termite will really enjoy.”
So, like a good mom who wants her son to read good books, I went to the book link and took a look at Misery Loves Company by Billy Becker.
The flyleaf reads: “Why do duck hunters do it? Sit in the driving rain for hours awaiting ducks that may never come? Shiver in freezing boats and blinds in the most inaccessible, not to mention inhospitable, environs? Can anyone call this fun? Evidently, duck hunters do.”
Termite was beyond downcast that I would not depart at 5 a.m. in the drizzle Saturday morning. He insisted that it had stopped and started several times and denied, even though I made him look at the screen of bright yellow cover on the radar over our area, that it was raining. Stubborn. Even though I laid down the ground rule the night before: I WILL NOT GO HUNTING IN THE RAIN, it made no difference. He woke me for the third time, saying he was loading the boat.
Hearing rain, and not being happy about being awakened again, I yelled at him from the front porch, across the road to the bayou bank. “I TOLD YOU I’M NOT GOING IN THE RAIN.” I left him in the boat, in the rain, shed my camo-wear, and slid back into bed.
So, no, the words on the flyleaf definitely do not apply to me. I don’t get up at 4 a.m. and brave the weather and the scary boat ride in the dark because I love the sport–I don’t even love to eat duck.
I do it because I love my son.
Duck hunting takes a lot of preparation, for what I see as very little reward. Today there would be even less reward. Unlike last weekend when I allowed him to shoot a few gallinules at the end of the hunt today I said no to the gallinules. Why? Because even though he cleaned them, and Widow Mary cooked them, he ate very little. He must learn the lesson that we do not kill the birds if we are not going to eat them.
Regardless of the “no-gallinules mandate”, he happily prepared the boat, his clothing, boots, gloves, ammo box, flashlights, duck calls (yes, Steffi!), face mask, gun, kill switch, boat key, gate keys, hunter safety card, push pole, paddle, life jackets, gas tank, running lights, anchor light, spotlight, decoys, pocket knife, and on and on. I refuse to be responsible for any of it.
If he were not so tenacious about duck hunting, would he get it all done?
We launched the boat the evening before. He made sure it had fuel, oil, and that the plugs were in so it floats! He drove it from the landing to the camp and tied it up securely for the night.
So today, when we left in the cold, cloudy, windy pre-dawn darkness, I reflected on the flyleaf words and my son. As he threw out his decoys, I mentally compared and contrasted the two and realized that duck hunting really is the sport for this tenacious kid who loves it so adamantly.
Unlike the boat parade of crazies on opening morning last weekend, this morning we were riding solo. Even though there was almost 100% cloud cover, no ambient light or starlight, he brought us all the way to the lease without turning on one light. Not one.
I will confess that I was not in a very good mood this morning. I did not want my bottom connecting with the cold of that aluminum boat seat. I was there begrudgingly, but by the time we reached the gate, this display of uncommon maturity nudged the grudge right out.
While watching him in the predawn light, I wondered how this tenacity might benefit him as an adult. What call will there be upon his life that requires such determination and dedication?
Even though his termite-like ways can be aggravating as all get out, shouldn’t I be happy that he has such spunk? What’s he thinking about while scanning the sky for ducks this morning, blowing his amazingly-duck-like calls. I observed him closely, his face smooth and child-like, his voice sweet and solid, not crackly and uncertain.
We sat in the cold together for about two hours. As we were leaving empty-handed, we ran into some club members who had as much luck as we did–zero. However, they told us that the two guys in the blind just south of us shot ten ducks this morning. Even so, Termite was not down trodden.
On the way in, I told him I was sorry that he didn’t get to shoot a duck.
And in his very Termite way, with dimples denting his adolescent cheeks, he said, “It’s okay, Mom. Thanks for taking me even though I know you really didn’t want to. I had a good time, anyway.”
He is the last. Your last chance to do it well and get it right. These days are fleeting. Stop wishing he were sixteen and could do this without you. Be glad he wants you here and that he doesn’t mind being seen in the boat with you. NOTE TO SELF: Buy a camo cushion for that old bottom. Layer clothing. Bring a book to read. Enjoy these days while they last. One day, you might be begging him to let you go hunting with him.
Meanwhile, I’ll just keep going hunting with him and dreaming about the future man this Tenacious Termite will turn out to be.
Heading to the sporting goods store . . .