Teach a Kid to Fish
As winter once again descended on the Upper Midwest, we donned our caps and scarves and went out into the frigid winter wonderland. Many of us “northerners” enjoy a wide range of winter fun, including snowmobiling, fat-biking, downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, sledding, ice climbing, snowshoeing and the like.
Well, as much as I enjoy many of these activities while moving through the quiet woods of MN, I love spending time with my kids. With my older kids, there is plenty of overlap in those activities, and yes, even with my youngest, aka. "Little Dude".
He is four and LOVES to fish. He first held a rod in hands at 16 months. Little Dude, took a shine to fishing. He especially loves fishing through a hole in the ice.
While we spent numerous hours fishing this past winter, one day he and I spent nine hours fishing through the four little holes of our “Ice House”. Yeah, that’s right, we have an ice house. For those of you not familiar with ice houses, check out the film "Grumpy Old Men". It was filmed right here in MN, with the lake scenes being shot on Lake Rebecca near Rockford, MN. That is life on the lake during a Minnesota Winter! If nothing else, the late Walter Matthau, the late Jack Lemmon and Ann-Margret will have you in stitches.
A friend and I opted for an ice house to provide more warmth than our little “pop-up” shelters could provide. Those small pop-up shelters, while great for mobility, only break the wind. We wanted our brides and our kids to experience ice fishing, free from the wind and cold.
Our house is roughly eight feet by fourteen feet. It is equipped with a small heater, a futon, a few chairs and a radio. It is “rustic” compared to many of the newfangled “Ice Castles” that have begun to populate the ice-covered surfaces of our lakes. While one can spend tens of thousands on a new Ice Castle, we find our rustic version more than adequate for a day or night on the lake.
We had a later than normal “ice-in” this year. Little Dude has been begging to get out and fish since the first snowflake fell in November, yet up until recently, the ice had not been safe enough to support the house. We finally made fourteen inches of ice about a week ago when the temperatures dipped and for several days, our daytime “high’s” were still below zero. Those sorts of temperatures, my friends, make some serious ice!
So, we were finally were able to pull the house onto the ice and fish. Little Dude was elated! While I was busy taking care of the “grown-up” stuff, drilling the holes, lighting the heater and connecting the battery for the radio and lights, he busied himself selecting a rod and baiting his lure.
Within a few minutes of dropping the first line, he had a fish, albeit a little 6 inch perch. And so it went, catch and release one after another, all the while with Little Dude kneeling by the hole coaxing the fish to hook, “here fishy, fishy”… or exclaiming “fish on!”
Sure, we had periods where we did not get a nibble for an hour or more. Little Dude would pull up his line and try a different lure, or switch between a crappie minnow and a wax worm. Nine hours. I loved all 32,400 seconds of that time with him!
Now you’re wondering, why are you writing this Aaron? What’s your point?
First, to give you a glimpse into another fantastic pastime many of us in up here on the ‘tundra’ enjoy.
Second, to share a few observations as I reflect on some time with my Little Dude.
He is passionate about fishing. He displays a level of patience that I rarely see in adults, let alone in children. He will wait. He will choose his tactics, putting tremendous thought into experimentation with different lures and baits. He will evaluate his successes and failures and discuss them with me. He will occasionally ask my opinion, such as, “dad, should I try the green lure or the orange one..?” or, "I think I'll try closer to the bottom, what do you think dad?"
He is practicing with a purpose.
He is a sponge. He soaks up information. He processes his experiences and applies them to the next challenge. He is accepting of his failure, yet moves quickly past it. With newfound knowledge, he tries again.
He is developing his own sense of self.
How many of us adults, approach a task with this level of passion? Do we practice with purpose? Do we accept that failure is an opportunity to learn and try again, not something to dwell on and be consumed by?
I would argue, not nearly enough.
While work AND life are not fishing. They can be LIKE fishing. Play the long game and be patient, after-all we are a series of success and failure. How we choose to respond, adapt, and move forward ultimately is what leads to our individual satisfaction and success. Celebrate that success, learn from it and move on. Conversely, accept failure, learn from it, and perhaps most importantly, move past it quickly!
Teach a kid to fish, you may be surprised by what you learn. . .
© 2016 Aaron Skogen
(Originally posted on LinkedIn, January 29, 2016)
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