As a young child, I loved spending time with my grandparents and one of the fondest memories I have of my Pop was when he would take us out redfin fishing. Only now do I realise how patient he was to take several grandchildren at a time, teaching us how to tie on a hook and thread on worms from his “worm garden” which we regularly watered and fed scraps to in his back yard.
We couldn’t sit quietly in his little boat, constantly reminded that we would scare the fish. It never seemed to resonate in our young psyche and to this day I can’t help but smile when I think of the time my Pop would yell, “Be quiet, I can’t hear myself think!”
That was over thirty years ago and while every new knot I learn seems to be easily forgotten, I can always rely on that familiar one he taught me, with the seven “lucky” loops.
I was fortunate enough to marry a man whose family shares the same love of fishing and outdoors as mine do. It goes without saying we take our kids camping and fishing as much as possible. Sure we are passionate about fishing, but so too are our boys as they have been joining us on boat trips since before they could crawl.
Parenting three young boys keeps me busy and I try to be the best mother I can but there are many challenges. I have resorted to books such as 1,2,3 Magic to help control my once wildly two-year-old and I still attend the odd parenting seminar every now and again.
I am mentioning this, as the freedom we enjoyed in our youth is unfortunately not the same for today’s younger generation. The latest approach seems to be about raising happy, confident and resilient children.
How to do this is a good question and the best person I have heard speak was Maggie Dent, a teacher and mother of four boys, who gives good old-fashioned, practical advice.
“We all know that today’s chaotic, consumer driven and busy world is deeply impacting on the mental, emotional, social and spiritual health of our children,” said Mrs Dent
She also made the point that free and unstructured play in the natural environment is the best way to ensure that that natural curiosity is not dulled or killed by the world of virtual reality.“Real children need real experiences with real people to grow up healthy, happy, strong and kind,” she said.
This brings me back to fishing and the quality time we spend or should be spending with our kids and the importance of parents and grandparents in our children’s lives.
I feel slightly selfish that we live in Perth and both sets of grandparents reside in country Victoria but when we do see them, we all stay together and the boys spend a lot of “real” time with them.
It’s like deja vu for me watching their grandfather taking them fishing for redfin in his dam and they delight in learning how to cast and retrieve little spinners.
When camping in the hills of Northeast Victoria, he teaches them how to sneak up on trout by approaching quietly, wading though the shallows upstream. We marvel at the patience he has with his grandchildren, something he freely admits he just didn’t have the time for when he was a very busy father.
While improvements in equipment and techniques have made quantum leaps from when our fathers and grandfathers fished, there are certain things, which never change and should be passed through the generations.
Our grandparents taught us the art of understanding fish, their habitats, breeding patterns and respect for our environment as well as spinning colourful yarns we never knew if they were actually true.
The love of the outdoors can be acquired at any age but time is something we all seem to be short of. By including our children in activities we love, it gives us the opportunity to give them “real” experiences in a natural, free environment. Hopefully they will treasure these memories and experiences and pass through this knowledge and create similar traditions when they have their own families.