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Michelle's Musings

Let’s go Fishin’

by Michelle Hastings

"How do you spell Oyama?" asked my twelve-year-old from where he sat perched at the computer attempting to do an online search for this miniscule regional park. "O-Y-A-M-A" I dutifully replied. "How about Diefenbaker?" was his next query. "D-I-E-F-E-N-baker" I stated, trying to concentrate on my morning prayer-time. "And Saskatchewan?" he piped up, interrupting my thoughts once again. "S-A-S-K-A-T-C-H-E-W-A-N" I sighed. Clackety-clack, clackety-clack went the keyboard as letters flew onto the screen. "How do you spell species?" he asked seconds later. "S-P-E-C-I-E-S" I answered. "There are actually 26 species of fish in Lake Diefenbaker," Tymon informed me. "I was wrong. I told you there were only 16."

Who says fishing isn’t educational? Anything that prompts my son to read and write has some educational value. Since Tymon has flung himself back into fishing, a hobby resurrected from his past, I’ve even caught him at the kitchen table, deep into the pages of a book called Fishing with Live Bait. He has done extensive research online about the various lakes in Saskatchewan, the species of fish they host, the best times, seasons and locations to catch them, and what types of hooks and bait are required for each species of fish. Through his reading, he has also learned how to make live minnow traps and how to flood areas of the backyard in order to force earthworms to the surface. If Tymon isn’t scanning some fishing web site on the computer, he’s got his nose in a fishing book, or he’s watching a fishing program on TV, or organizing his tackle box. If he’s nowhere inside, he can probably be found out in the backyard digging up worms or perhaps down at the creek catching minnows and leeches.

Our living-room, previously only sprinkled with electronic games, TV remotes, candy wrappers, Slurpee cups, balled up tissues and a bag full of baseball equipment, is now literally strewn with rods and tackle boxes as Tymon diligently pores over his fishing gear, organizing and reorganizing for hours on end.

He chuckles to himself as he weeds through the purchases he made a few years ago when he first dove into fishing. Most of the items he’d carefully selected back then from amongst the rows and rows of shelves stacked with fishing supplies at Pokey’s Tackle Shop, are relatively useless for the kind of fish Tymon is after this time around. Despite the hours and hours of fishing programs he’d eagerly absorbed in earlier days, he realizes now that he made some pretty foolish choices when it came to spending his hard-earned allowance to furnish his tackle box. He even found ocean-fishing sinkers and hooks, along with 20-pound line for 2-6 pound fish!

At twelve and on the brink of puberty, he laughs about his past purchases and asks me to take him to Canadian Tire where he can get what he really needs for their upcoming trip to Lake Diefenbaker this weekend. With calculator in hand, he’d already tallied up the amount he’d be able to spend, in order to have enough of his $20 bill left to cover the tax. (We’d returned a water gun that he was disappointed in the previous day to get the $20.) So, three stops later he was satisfied . . . because the first location wasn’t having the same sale that he’d noticed at the other location, (which of course was at the opposite end of the city.) After that he promised, "I just need one more thing," as we made our way down the street to WalMart.

While Tymon did his shopping, I holed up in the van eagerly perusing the new issue of Home Education Magazine that had graced our mailbox that afternoon. "I was short 84 cents!" Tymon stated as he crawled back into our vehicle after returning with packages in hand. "Oh well…" he breathed, "I still have about five leaders at home."

I know he’ll be back, I thought to myself as we pulled out of the parking lot. He’ll find a way to earn a buck and talk us into coming back for those leaders that are quietly but insistently whispering his name.

Thus continues our adventures of interest-led learning. I can’t say that I’m sorry to see Tymon’s last obsession fade into the background. For the past few months, both Ty and his younger brother Asher have been enraptured with The Habbo Hotel, an Internet chat room where they’ve been spending both their time and their money, purchasing credits, furnishing rooms, trading furni, playing games, entering contests and operating businesses. Despite the educational merit I could see in the boys’ involvement with The Habbo Hotel, (Tymon’s reading, spelling and typing skills dramatically improved throughout this time span), the many problems the boys encountered on the site, will not be missed. A number of times the boys have been scammed by Internet con artists with nothing better to do than rip off little kids! Yet, Asher has clung emphatically to Habbo throughout his entire baseball season and doesn’t seem ready to let it go just yet.

Although taking the boys’ fishing requires more of a commitment from me, I’m more than ready to see the kids move on to this summertime pursuit. Thankfully we have lots of help in this department. Our first outing this year, accompanied by my sister and her three-month-old baby, was a day trip to Oyama where the boys and a buddy fished for perch and pike while we lounged, basking in the sun, visiting and munching on snacks. (It’s such a chore facilitating their education!)

Next, Tymon was able to join my brother and his family for a weekend camping trip at Lake Diefenbaker. The fishing wasn’t very good because the bay was too busy with wind surfers, but he had a good time anyway learning how to windsurf and kayak, participating in a triathalon for kids, soaking in a hot tub and playing with his cousins.

After that, came an invitation for Tymon to join a friend and his son at a nearby trout farm to catch and release perch. The fish were pint sized but it was still lots of fun catching them. Next on the agenda is a second trip to Diefenbaker with my other brother and friends of his. They’ll be staying in a cabin and supposedly the spot is a popular one for fishing. The anticipation is thick and preparations have been ongoing since the weekend was penciled in on our calendar weeks ago.

It’s only the beginning of summer and Tymon has already had all of these opportunities to commune with nature and attempt to catch fish. For the first time in years I’m going to be away from our boys, working fulltime this summer doing recreational activities with youth in a Young Offenders’ Summer Program. I feel sad that I’ll be pouring so much time and energy into other peoples’ kids instead of our own, but I’m grateful for all those willing to pour their time, energy and resources into our kids’ lives at the same time.

Hopefully, opportunities like these will continue to spring up throughout the next couple of months. But between these hands-on opportunities the learning never ends, as Tymon will continue to gobble up as much information as possible in preparation for the next time. As well, on some of these weekends I’ll be the one to head off with the boys to nearby lakes to soak up the sun while the boys go fishing…at least until August when Asher’s football season starts and we spend more time at the practice field than the fishing hole.

Copyright 2004 by Michelle Hastings. All rights reserved.

Michele and her husband Ted are the homeschooling parents of two bright and creative boys, ages 11 and 12. They live in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada and have been leading a lifestyle of learning since the children were born. Ted is a Developmental Assistant, working with multiply disabled children in a school setting and Michele is a part-time hairstylist who loves to spend time with her kids, read, write and take long walks and leisurely bike rides. Visit Michelle’s new website at www.geocities.com/michelesmusings2003/index.html