Once More to the Lake Moments
One of my favorite essays is E.B. White’s “Once More to the Lake.” I can hear my city-loving friend cringe at the thought of reading an essay about nature. But “Once More to the Lake” is much more than a dad taking his son fishing at a lake that he had visited during childhood summers. It’s the parent experiencing his own childhood through his child – that beautiful moment that parents occasionally experience where the past, present and future become one.
My dad used to teach my kids childhood games. I especially remember the time he taught them to play Kick The Can. If you’ve never played, it’s kind of like a combination of tag, hide-and-seek and Capture the Flag. Look it up on Wikipedia and play it with your kids – they’ll love it. My dad always used a hose to make a big circle around the can, which also served as the “jail” for captured players.
I still remember the feeling I had years ago as I watched my dad forming the big circle with the hose in the backyard and placing the can in the middle as my kids jumped around waiting impatiently for the game to begin. I was suddenly a kid again as I remembered playing the same way in the same backyard. I could have been my daughter or my son. In that brief moment, I was a child, and I was a parent. It was my Once More to the Lake Moment.
That warm rush has happened many times over the years. It’s the reason I get tears in my eyes when I go to an elementary school play. It’s the same feeling I get when I hear about my son’s first job, or my daughter Anna’s stories about studying abroad, or Mary’s experiences about her first year of college.
My times of self-discovery in Europe, my stress of a first professional job and the fun of my freshman year of college all come flooding back in that indescribable way of being in the past and present simultaneously.
The first time I read “Once More to the Lake,“ was in high school. I understood it then, but now I’ve felt it. An unexpected gift from my children.