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Traditions Old and New

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Theo put an arm around Selkie’s shoulders as they sat on the couch. The rest of the family had gone to look for the Monopoly board and set it up in the dining room, but Selkie had stayed behind and he had stayed with her. His new granddaughter still looked a little sad, and he thought he had an idea to cheer her up.

“You know, we used to go on fishing holidays every year when the kids were little,” he said.

Selkie nodded. “Dad tolds me.”

“Well, I’ve been thinking. Since you like fish so much, maybe we could have a fishing trip ourselves. How does that sound?”

“Yes! Whens cans we go? Nows?” Selkie’s eyes were shining at the thought, and Theo grinned to see his idea so well received.

“Not quite this moment, it needs a little more planning than that! But I’m sure we’ve still got the rods somewhere around, I just need to find where your grandmother’s put them.”

“Rods?” Selkie asked, wrinkling up her face. “Why do wes needs rods?”

Oh, right, Theo thought. Gills, webbed hands; and she had just said she and her mother used to hunt fishes. Selkie probably wouldn’t need a rod to catch fish… Now how should he point out he couldn’t, without making her feel different again?

“You may be able to catch a fish with your hands, but do you think I can? I know I’m in excellent shape” - he struck a bodybuilding pose, puffing up his biceps and sucking in his stomach, and was pleased to see Selkie giggle - “but I think catching fish with my bare hands might be just a little beyond me. Besides, it’s fun to sit in the sun and wait for the fish to bite.”

“Buts you don’ts get to swims then,” Selkie complained.

“You could swim after we fish, or before… or you can swim and I’ll use my rod, so long as you don’t scare all the fish away from me. I’ll teach you how to grill them over the fire after, and you can have all the eyes if you like!”

Selkie hadn’t seemed too convinced by the grilling, but her face lit up at the promise of fresh fish eyes. “Reallys? Alls the eyes?!” Then, perhaps feeling greedy, she added, “Yous cans have somes if you likes.”

“Thanks, sweetie,” Theo said, doing his best to look pleased at the offer. “I’ll arrange it properly with your dad later; I’ll have to hunt out our rods, and find somewhere where we’ll be allowed to fish.”

“Cant’s we go wheres you useds to take dads?” Selkie asked, surprised.

“No, they banned fishing in the Great Lakes…” he trailed off, a sudden idea springing into his head. The city Selkie said her mother had spoken off… But this wasn’t the moment for speculating. “There’s sure to be somewhere nearby where we can go, though. You leave it to me.”

At that moment, Todd appeared in the doorway, and Selkie leapt off the couch and ran to him.

“Dads, Grandpa’s goings to takes me fishings! He’s goings to finds somewheres we can gos,” she told him excitedly.

“That’s great, sweetie,” Todd replied, smiling back at her. “But it’s Smith family initiation time now! So come and pick your pieces, both of you.”

Selkie ran through the door, and Theo followed more slowly.

“Somewhere to fish? I thought you said you’d never take a fishing trip anywhere but Lake Superior?” Todd asked, teasing, and Theo swatted his son’s arm lightly as he passed him.

“New family, new traditions. I thought it would cheer her up.” And it has, he thought with relief, watching as Selkie listened attentively to Antoine explaining the rules, the boat piece in her hand.