“I go fish!” This is what my 20th month old says now whenever he sees a fishing rod in the garage. I must be doing something right. My little guy actually wants to go fishing now. I would like to think that part of his enjoyment comes, not only from taking him fishing, but from involving him in what we’re doing.
When we go fishing, I try and make the experience as engaging as possible. We typically walk upstream in the river or creek casting as we go. I constantly talk to him. I ask him questions like, “Do you think we’re going to find a fish here?” I tell him what I’m doing all the time. I actually really like doing this and it comes naturally to me. I tend to be someone who “thinks out loud” (it’s not really talking to yourself) so when there is a baby on your back to talk to, it makes you look far less crazy. When we catch a fish, I usually try to hold it up to him. He gets to touch the fish and see it up close. The enormous grin he gets when he is checking out a fish is priceless.
When we let the fish go, I don’t think he understands why (I’m a catch and release person). But he is paying more attention than I could ever know. On our latest fishing trip, he kept looking around in the water near my feet and saying “fish.” (It often sounds like “Fisssss). He knows they live in the water. I think he believes we should get to play with the fish much more before we put them back. As we fish, he is usually on my back, playing with the net (it often whacks me in the head… but oh well). On this day, after releasing two fish, he kept leaning way over to the side in the backpack. I was a little worried about him falling out and got a little bit frustrated with him… until I figured out what he was actually doing. He had the net in his hand and was trying to get it all the way down in to the water. He’s likely thinking, “I’ve seen dad do some stuff with that stick thing and then put this net in the water and a fish comes out. I’ll just get one myself!” He is already fishing! It really is amazing what kids learn when we least suspect it. I am excited about his enthusiasm for fishing and the fact that he is already trying to fish. I am a little bit worried though. How long will it take him to learn to all of my bad habitats and all of the stupid things I do?