I took my kids fishing, but I really wish I hadn’t.
No, they didn’t fall in or get snagged by a stray hook – although there were some close calls. There was a MUCH bigger problem.
I originally took them fishing because I thought it would be good exposure; a new activity that was outdoorsy and nature-oriented. I did it because, as a good mom, I thought I should give them a new experience to check off on their elementary aged “bucket lists.” I did it thinking this afternoon event would be filled with positive memories and stories about “that one time they went fishing.”
Boy, was I wrong. That one-time event sparked an interest – an interest in the sport of fishing. My kids had found something they loved doing and I was the one who started it all.
Darn you, motherhood ambition. Look at the little monsters you’ve created. It’s all your fault.
You see, I hate worms. I hate their squiggly, wet bodies. I hate the idea of sacrificing them to the hook. I hate catching the fish, touching the fish, de-hooking the fish. I hate the smell, the loads of equipment, and the waiting….and waiting…and waiting for something to happen. I really do hate it all. But my kids had now tried fishing and they couldn’t get enough of it. They wanted to do it again.
It’s just a phase, I told myself. It’ll wear off and they’ll forget all about it.
When I first started denying their requests to go fishing again, I made up some really great excuses – busyness, timing, lack of equipment… I told them that they should research what poles they might want someday and learn about the different types of tackle available. I pushed them to watch fishing shows and find the species of fish that are in our Minnesota lakes. I suggested they learn more about bait and various methods for catching specific fish.
Each time they asked for a fishing outing, I dismissed it promoting more research in order to “be ready” someday. The problem was, they WERE ready. They had done the research, they had learned and discovered, and they still wanted to fish.
Oh, my heavens, I thought. How did I end up with kids that liked….fishing? Why couldn’t they like something I liked – something that I wanted to do in my spare time? Something enjoyable?
Friends, I knew it was time to put my big-girl-pants on and make a deal: I would buy the live bait and drive them to the lake, they had to buy the equipment and learn to do it all – even taking the fish off that hook-thingy – by themselves. The deal was agreed upon by both parties – they were delighted and I was (surprisingly) satisfied with our arrangement.
We are not a fishing family, but my boys are fishermen. They have learned most of it on their own – reading, watching, listening – and from a few great friends who have helped along the way. Their fight to become fishermen taught them independence, trial and error, gleaning information, and how to implement the new-found knowledge. Now, they are even teaching others – siblings, friends, people they meet on the dock of our favorite lake.
I still hate worms. But what a gift “fishing” has become – filled with lessons for us all. My kiddos have learned that perseverance pays off and how to be self-sufficient. And I have learned the importance of compromise. But not on everything. (NO, boys, you may NOT store your worms in the refrigerator!)
Have YOU ever let your kids experience things because you thought you “should,” but then immediately regretted it? What was it?