I am belatedly altering my family's names for the future. Cecelia - Sicily; Jack - John; Mike - Ike. Sorry for any confusion. And thanks to the Gaspers for their help in coming up with the names on New Year's Eve.
A couple of months ago, I came home and there was a large box in the entryway. This is not unusual - my husband orders online frequently. I ignored it. Later, when he came home, he walked excitedly into the kitchen.
"Come here, Sicily! You need to try on your waders!"
In case you don't remember, Sicily is five. I guess I shouldn't be surprised. On the way home from a meeting in November, I called my husband from the airport. He told me his mom was watching John so he could take Sicily to the shooting range. When I got home, she said,
"Guess what mom! I sat on daddy's lap and helped him shoot a pumpkin! Look at my cool new earphones!"
So that night, Sicily tried on her waders, and practiced walking around the house. It was hilarious - she kept falling down, not hurting herself, just clumsily, but she was determined to get it right for her dad. John started squawking with jealousy, until I found the duck call my brother had gotten him last Christmas. Now there was happy squawking. For the next few nights, Sicily diligently and gleefully donned her waders after dinner, sometimes going out the front door with her dad to practice steps and rough terrain (we live across the street from the forest).
The first time my husband took her duck hunting, he was home about two hours earlier than usual. But she lasted for three hours, which was more than I would have expected. She loved sneaking out of bed in the wee hours of the morning. She loved marching through the swamp on the way to the duck blind. She loved sitting in the duck blind with her dad, another member, and his five and three year old sons, playing and entertaining. She loved riding with her dad on the four-wheeler. She didn't even really mind the dead ducks, something we were both worried about. The second time my husband asked her if she wanted to come along, on another relatively warm morning, she ecstatically assented.
I was talking to my husband one evening and he boasted, "Yeah, (so-and-so) doctor was pretty surprised and impressed to see me taking Sicily duck hunting." I asked, "How did he see you taking her duck hunting?"
Apparently, there is a convenient store that is bustling between 4-5 a.m. during duck season, a last stop on the way to the woods. A place to pick up forgotten items and use a real restroom. Usually full of men. Not a place that has seen many five year old girls at that hour, I'll wager. I can just see my daughter in there, eating up the attention. Daddy's little girl. The Princess of the Mini-Mart.
The doctor who saw Sicily at the mini-mart confided jealously to my husband Ike at work the following week. "My daughters wouldn't dream of going duck hunting with me. Too squeamish. They couldn't stand the dead ducks. I guess I should have started them younger, like you."
Once, a friend asked me if I ever got sad or worried that I had so many different people involved in caring for my kids because of my job and training. Of course, in certain states of mind. Women are worriers. But we are all an amalgam of our experiences, and so I answered,
"No. In fact, I am really happy that they are exposed to so many different view points on life, at such a young age. I think it will make them better equipped to handle society. If they were only approaching the world from my angle, they would have a pretty warped picture."
I can't imagine hunting for pleasure - it is completely outside my worldview. Or wanting to get up so early, on a weekend or vacation, when I usually rise at 4:30 during the week. But it makes me happy, on many levels, that my daughter and her dad are sharing these experiences together. It isn't really about the hunting. It's about them being together, and being in nature. A nice side effect is that we are connecting with the food we put on the table.
I suppose many moms would cringe at the thought of their five year old daughter going hunting, or to a shooting range. But if you knew what a girly-girl drama queen Sicily is, you would probably be glad for her. She needs the balance, so I let her go. I have enjoyed the mornings alone with John. And the duck gumbo my CIA (Culinary Institute of America, not Central Intelligence Agency) trained brother made for Christmas Eve dinner was out of this world (and completely sustainable!). It works, in our family.