There is nothing that nags like an elusive metaphor. But sometimes a jackknife is just a jackknife.

Husband (Number One) fishes with boys. Relaxing activities do not, of course, relax boys. Or, as it turns out, Husband (Number One). Miles of invisible monofilament line, deadly hooks, big nets that can easily accommodate a boy’s head, and their grandfather’s old tackle boxes jammed with bobbers and lures. There is nothing relaxing about any of this for boys. There are knives. The object—obviously—is hardly to fish, but to get into all this shiny, sharp, glittering gear. And dump it all over the dock in a mad, tangled, ecstatic frenzy. This, for the boys, is “fishing.”

Goes without saying that “fishing” requires patience under most circumstances, but requires even more when it’s chilly and not quite the season and the lake isn’t stocked. Husband (Number One)—Epitome of Fatherhood—forges ahead at dock anyway. Dodges rods (and hooks) flying from one side of dock to the other, nets slashing through the air, and repeatedly untangles rods, boys, and himself. Humor intact on all fronts; no one has lost an eye.

Thanksgiving nightcrawlers—long dead and frozen in fridge—not effective. Necessitates much-anticipated trip to the bait shop by all male members of family.

I take dog for walk.

I come home. Boys come home. Electrified. “We got jackknives! We got JACKKNIVES!” Disbelief immediately dispelled as they brandish miniature Swiss Army knives with all blades open. “Don’t WORRY!” They tell me. I think they know what I’m thinking (as well they should), but then it becomes clear that indeed they do not when I am informed (in order to alleviate my worry) that lack of toothpick more than compensated for by presence of LED light. I stare at Husband (Number One)—who most certainly does know what I’m thinking—two boys, and two blades pointed at my face. “Dad threw his knife in the lake because McDiesel was hitting me with his pole and the hook almost got me—and so he got us NEW ONES!”

Before I can say anything about questionable logic of this strategy, Husband (Number One) defends weapons purchase: “Fathers and sons…” Boys chime in happily and dance around Husband (Number One) (blades still open): “Fathers and sons! Fathers and sons!” Feel I have been transported to Neverland. All three male members promise there has been solemn lecture on responsibility of jackknife ownership and use. McD in particular understands—all three nod vigorously—jackknife is Not For Hurting. For fishing and whittling and only with Dad. Husband (Number One) shrugs—“This is what memories are made of!”—and boys clamber out the door. “They will remember these jackknives always.”

Was it even two weeks ago that psychiatrist acquaintance (adult, not pediatric specialist) quipped—rather dismally and insensitively, I think—that ADHD leads to Future Felons of America—as reported to me by Husband (Number One) himself?

Chorus of “Fathers and sons! Fathers and sons!” as they run back to dock with fresh supply of writhing nightcrawlers and Swiss Armies (down hill, over tree roots, blades still open). Say I have no doubt we will remember these jackknives always, but no one there to appreciate sarcasm.

Would like to pursue nascent metaphor of the jackknife, but Spring is in the air so determine that spirit of hopefulness will triumph and can do without metaphor. Positivity apparently rewarded when—against odds of temperature, season, and lake—Big Bro catches small bream (which unfortunately does not survive release back to the wild).

Metaphor recrudesces shortly after as I remove Swiss Army from one of McD’s hands (within my jurisdiction since McD is neither fishing, whittling, nor with Dad) and Zip, Big Brother’s cherished anole, from the other. Optimism prevails, however, and I manage to envision McD as veterinary surgeon instead of FF of A.

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