It was 4:50 in the morning and Beckett was standing inches from my face.
That’s how last Saturday began at my house.
Instinctively, I picked him up and put him in bed with us, only to be quickly reminded we were going out on crabbing that morning with our neighbor “Mr. Brad”.
While I got out of bed and was getting myself primed with a caffeine injection as well as Beckett’s breakfast, I heard the unmistakable sound of little feet coming down the steps. He was too excited to stay in bed as I asked. In fact, excited enough that he slept in the clothes his mommy had set out for him the night before.
We were to meet Mr. Brad at 5:30 and it turned out we were going to be early.
Prior to that morning, I figured I would have to pick Beckett up out of bed and strap him into his car seat still asleep. I couldn’t have been more off. He was amped and so excited that he would not even eat breakfast. I can’t say I blame him as breakfast at that hour was not on my mind either. Plus, I had envisioned crabs for breakfast upon our return.
In the days before the crabbing adventure, Beckett made it clear in several conversations he wanted to put the crabs back into water after he caught them. That was a tricky one because I think it’s great that he felt that way, but I knew there was no way we were letting any keepers go. Again, a breakfast of steamed crabs was the goal.
Therefore, I made up a story that basically culminated with Beckett coming to the conclusion we were only going to keep the crabs that wanted to pinch him. I quickly had him on my side, particularly when he realized on the boat that every crab wanted to pinch him.
When we arrived at Mr. Brad’s dock, it was still dark and Beckett was marveling over the moon and being quite adventurous when it came to the water beneath the boat.
At that point, Mr. Brad estimated there was a 50-50 chance my 4-year-old was going to end up overboard before the crabbing session was over.
As the day progressed and “Mr. Sun” (the little guy’s words) joined “Mr. Moon” in the sky, the odds increased to about 80-20 as he became a little bit more rambunctious. At one point, I thought I was going to end up in the drink because Beckett kept dropping the net overboard and I was diving to save it. He thought that was hilarious, of course.
Surprisingly, nobody ended up in the water that day, but there were many memorable moments along the way for Beckett and his son and hopefully Mr. Brad.
By far, Beckett’s favorite part of the adventure was throwing out the crabbing lines followed closely by bending Mr. Brad’s ear with incessant questions about anything and everything he did.
There was a lot for my son to marvel over that day and it started from the get go with the pure number of buoys he spotted as we left the dock. He thought it was the coolest thing that they were all different and came in unique shapes and sizes. I think he wants Santa to bring him for Christmas.
His inquisitive nature piqued perhaps when Mr. Brad began cutting up the chicken necks to place on the crabbing lines. Some of the questions I recall included, “Why are you doing that? How are you doing that? Is it cold? Can you see it?” Do crabs like that?” Why is it red? Are their bugs out here?” What’s that?” It went on and on and fortunately Mr. Brad, a father of two as well as a teacher, took it all in stride.
We had a lot of action that day on the water and it was almost immediately after we dropped our lines. Most of the crabs we caught that day had to be released because they did not meet the minimum, but it was still fun to catch as many as we did.
For his part, Beckett was not incredibly interested in pulling up the crabbing lines. That was probably best because he did not have much of a grasp on the whole practice of slowing pulling up the line. At one point, he pulled up a line in such aggressive fashion that a simple claw, gripping on to the chicken, appeared out of the water, making it quite clear he had pulled with such force that he separated from the claw from the crab.
By the size of the claw, it was a nice-sized one, too, but I can’t help but think about that poor crab now facing life in the water with only one claw. Later, my wife and I did get a good laugh out of that.
We checked out about five spots that day with Mr. Brad, who knows the water well and gave us a lot of action. Not that Beckett seemed to really care about that, as he was more into his steady stream of questions and dumping water bottles over his head.
While Mr. Brad and I checked our lines continuously, Beckett went from one end of the boat to the other, posing questions to each of us and making some comments here and there about how the crabs are mad at us and wondering if there are more water bottles.
After a couple hours, Beckett began making it clear he was ready to end our excursion. It was the fifth dive to save the crab net that led Mr. Brad and I to acknowledge it was time.
Mr. Brad graciously offered to me the 10 keepers we got that day and even cooked them, giving me the steamed crab breakfast I wanted.
Beckett, who was asleep by 6 that night, was not at all interested in the crab meat and neither Pam nor I selfishly saw any reason to force it on him.