I?m sure you?ve all seen the ?Take Me Fishing? ad. You know, the one with the happy smiling dad and kids, out for a day of fishing.
To be brutally honest, I think whoever came up with that one must either not have children or assume that all parents are well-medicated.
I love to fish. The sun on my skin, the breeze on my face, the gentle lapping of the waves…it?s just plain peaceful. Whatever laundry or dishes await me at home, fishing is at least a useful reason not to do them. After all, I?ll be bringing home dinner, right? Even if I don?t catch anything, I can chalk it up to a much needed mental health day.
Adding kids to the picture changes the equation quite a bit. What is usually a fairly simple, straightforward outing suddenly gains exponential levels of complexity. Here?s an example.
Previous day: Offhand?edly mention that tomorrow might be a good day to go fishing. The weather should be great. Spend evening fielding repetitive questioning about if and when we are going fishing tomorrow.
Target day: Be awakened at o-dark-thirty with questions about fishing. Spend morning attempting to do chores. Tell kids to find their poles and chairs. Come inside to find one child watching cartoons and the other one napping. Neither one has found any item of fishing equipment.
Noon: separate fighting children and tell them to eat lunch so we can go fishing. Father chimes in with a helpful suggestion about his family?s traditional ?fishing sandwiches? (Lebanon bologna, onion, and mustard).
Children consume lunch-like items and insist they cannot find their fishing equipment in the precise area of the garage indicated. To preserve your sanity, you go out and gnaw on a tree.
1:00: Lead children to garage. Find all fishing equipment in one area precisely 6 inches from where you told them to look. Attempt to make gravel out of nearest cinderblock with your head. Locate and pack cooler. Locate empty tub just in case you catch something. Load all equipment in vehicle after removing spiderwebs.
1:15: Wake up dozing children. Convince them to put on brand new water shoes that suddenly don?t fit. Head into town to buy nightcrawlers. Discover store is out of nightcrawlers. Spend an extra $20 on snacks because your kids suddenly develop an aversion to the ones you packed. Grimly head out to lake. You haven?t come this far to not fish.
1:30: Arrive at lake. Find favorite fishing spot occupied by campers. Drive around aimlessly until you give up and just park somewhere. Reassure kids for the umpteenth time that, yes, you can still go fishing without nightcrawlers (and silently breathe a sigh of relief?at least they won?t be fighting over who gets to hold the worm can).
2:00: Unpack car and lug all equipment and chairs to the bank. Discover last spider web is a hatching egg sac. Kids are too busy throwing rocks in the water to assist. Seriously consider informing kids that the lake is all out of fish today. Spend next 15 minutes achieving the perfect seating arrangement. Children have now consumed all the potable liquids and need to go to the bathroom.
2:30: Start assembling poles and baiting hooks. Stop baiting second pole to untangle first pole from a snarl of someone else?s fishing line left on bank. Stab self with hook. Resume baiting second pole. Wonder if you need a tetanus shot.
First child now practicing casting. Second child joins in. First child gets hook caught on a rock. Second child smacks first child in head with pole. Fighting ensues.
2:45: Second child casts and tangles line in overhead tree. Yank line out of tree and get hit in the head with someone else?s old lure that was stuck up there, too.
First child now bored and thirsty, and informing the world at the top of her lungs. Second child loses bait, says it?s first child?s fault. Fighting ensues.
3:00: Bait your own hook with a sense of futility. If there were any fish here, they?re long gone now. Settle into your chair and take a deep breath. Briefly consider having a snack but remember that you?ve ground your teeth to nubbins.
Both children have now laid down their poles and are amusing themselves by throwing rocks and making algae sculptures. Something moves in the water. Is it a fish or a turtle? Fighting ensues.
3:30: Concede defeat. Be silently grateful that you didn?t lose a small fortune in nightcrawlers. Disassemble all poles and load all gear into vehicle. Spend drive home fielding questions about when we?re going fishing again. Give husband brownie points for not asking if you caught anything.
I?ve thought about using the kids as bait next time they ask me to ?take them fishing.? Instead, I?ll just do what my dad and grandpa did for me?keep trying till we all get the hang of it. And maybe, just maybe, slip off and fish by myself every now and then.
After all, maybe I?m the one who needs the practice!