Every time I hear the singing of a red-winged blackbird, my soul goes back to childhood memories of fishing with my dad. Lasting memories that he made sure to instill in me and my little brother.
I instantly go back to the crisp mornings. Barely daylight, gliding along the water every so smoothly trying to get to the best spot before anyone else.
Eating fried egg sandwiches Dad made just before we left, wrapped in paper towel and stuffed in sandwich plastic baggies.
The smell of cattails and buggy whips mixed with the garlic salt scent of the Red Culprit plastic fishing worms we always used.
The sound of my Zebco 33 as I rear back, push the casting button, picked my spot and cast my baited hook into the depths of the lake.
Those are memories I will have forever. I would not trade those times spent with my Dad for anything. It seems like it was yesterday and also so feels like forever ago.
Maybe you do not have memories like this from your childhood. Maybe you did but cannot remember them.
I want to have cherished times like this with my kids. Them remembering the times we spent together enjoying God’s creation, just like I do with my Dad.
Every time they see, hear or smell things of those times, I want them to go back in the memories and relive. Just like when I hear the singing of a red wing blackbird.
Here is a video of their song by MyBackyardBirding.
How do you make lasting memories?
Here are 7 ways for you to make a lasting impression in your child’s life. Just like my Dad did for me and my little brother.
1. Love being with your kids no matter what.
One thing that really stood out to me about my Dad is it never mattered what we were doing, he always loved being with us and around us. We could just be playing around the house, helping us with projects, practicing baseball, yard work, hunting lizards with our BB guns, fishing. Did not matter. My Dad made sure we knew he loved every minute he spent with us.
2. Make something about every adventure special.
My Dad was great about leading up to the day we were going. He would always pick something we could do during that trip that was out of our ordinary. Like one trip he would let me drive the boat instead of him. Of course, it was under highly controlled situations, overly supervised, within his arm reach to correct any mistake I might make and gain control of the boat at any time. It made no difference to me. In my eyes I was the sea captain of the ship, at the helm, getting us to our next destination across the Great Atlantic like a Spanish conquistador in route to our next conquest.
Or the time we were out on a Saturday morning on bus visitation for our church bus ministry. We use to go visiting kid’s homes who came to our church on our bus outreach ministries inviting the parents to visit our church or neighboring families to visit our church.
This morning was different from the rest. It had rained for a few nights and as we were driving Dad noticed a clay pit where they had been doing some construction. At the time he had an old Jeep CJ5 that was four-wheel drive. In a moments notice, my Dad had pulled off the road, into that clay pit and away we went. Slipping one way and then another. Wheels spinning mud all around as Dad commanded that Jeep like a true Pro. My brother and I cheered, laughed, hollered and howled, as my Dad was laughing the entire time. It was amazing.
3. Have traditions in your Adventure that are repeatable.
My Dad always had things that we did during our adventures that were always the same. Example with the egg sandwiches. That was our thing when we fished. He always woke up just a little earlier than me and my brother and cooked them up for us.
The night before our fishing trips, we would sit down and get our tackle together in our boxes so we knew what we were fishing for and the best approach for the day. He would always help me get my stuff together and tie up my line as I was still too little “to do it myself” at the age of 6 years old (even though I thought I was old enough).
4. Let your Kid make some decisions.
My Dad, always asked us what we thought why we were out exploring God’s Creation. When we fished he would ask,
“What do you think we should fish for?” or, “You think this looks like a good stop?”
Dad always made sure we were apart of the process. He wanted our input to see what we would say or how we would respond. Making sure we were enjoying our time being spent and most of all he wanted us to have a say in how our day was to go. We were on this adventure together. He needs me and I definitely needed him.
5. Teach while you are sharing your Adventure. Make it a learning experience for everyone.
While Dad was asking our opinion on what we thought about different things, he always followed up with “why?”. He wanted us to learn from the experience as much as he wanted us to have fun.
If we answered with some, “off the wall” idea of why we were suggesting some action or place, he would explain why or why not that may not be the best approach. He was always great about not making us feel dumb or stupid but explained to us his reasoning. I always admired how he would do that. How he could make me not feel dumb for tying a rope to my reel and rod so when I would try to go for distance with my cast (I was still learning how to fish) and end up throwing my reel and rod in the lake, the rope would save my fishing trip from coming to a very quick end. True story.
Dad was always great about making you feel like you were part of the team, not just an aggravation. He was at teaching me and my brother how to do everything we did with him.
6. Put the Electronics away (except a camera) and focus on the Adventure.
When we were little, we really did not have this problem as Dad did not have any electronics to distract him from us like nowadays. I am guilty of this with my kids. They are playing, coloring or watching tv and out comes the phone. Surfing the internet, watching Youtube or catching up on the latest drama on social media. It’s a shame that we let these distractions take away from our kids. One thing I envy about “the good old days” is we did not have such easy distractions.
One electronic device that I think you should always have with you on any adventure is a good reliable camera (I got this one cheap from Amazon). Of course, make sure to bring essentials for your specific trip. For instance, if you are hiking make sure you have your GPS (This is the one I use) and a good way to communicate with help if needed like a cell phone or a radio. Just don’t bring things that can distract you from bonding with your kids. Not video games, turn your cell phone on airplane mode (saves battery) so you can not get those pesky emails or social media alerts and focus on your time on your adventure.
The camera is a great way to capture moments that you will cherish forever. Those big catches, that trophy buck, the farthest point on your hike, the top of mountain or hill, that amazing bird or that great picnic tea party you had with your little girl by her favorite pond. Document anything and everything you can so you will have time to go back, relive those moments and pass them on to the generations to come.
One of the best camera to catch the moment anywhere and in any condition is an action camera (this is the one I got cheap on Amazon). Take excellent quality video and pictures anywhere, anytime and in any condition.
7. Make lasting memories by Having Fun.
Most of all just remember to have fun. Do not make it work feel like work, even if it is work.
We had a lawn care side business my Dad started when we were kids to pay the doctor bills. My Dad asked our pediatrician we saw (seemed like every week for Bronchitis) if he could take care of the office lawn to help offset the money being spent in medical bills as money was tight back then. The pediatrician agreed and Dad started the “making ends meet” lawn care business.
As my brother and I got older we were volunteered to help Dad with the lawn care business for allowance money. Dad always seemed to make those trips into fun adventures. It never really seemed like work. He always had some game, competition or skill we would do to make those trips seem special.
Everything and everywhere was always a fun exploration of where the adventure was going to take us. Those memories we will cherish forever. My only regret is that we did not get to document as much of our memories with pictures and videos are we can today. Nowadays you can just pull out your phone and video your adventures or take quick snapshots of life happen every instant.
Cherish this times, moments and adventures as we are not promised tomorrow. Make lasting memories with your loved ones.
Memories like mine, where all it takes is hearing the song of a Red Wing Blackbird to send me back as if I was there all over again.
P.S. My Dad is still alive and healthy. We just do not get to fish and hang out as much as we did when I was a kid.
- What memories do you have being outdoors that you cherish?
- What steps have you made toward making memories with your family?
- What do you wish you would have done differently to ensure more memories?
Share this with your Social Networks. You may just help jog someone’s memory of something they need today. Let’s have a conversation below.