Yesterday, we took William fishing. Well. Tim took William fishing. I was there to watch, being squeamish about hooks, worms and thrashing fish.
We went to an old friend's pond, with the intention of kidnapping him and taking him out to dinner afterwards, but he was not home, so we settled for walking through the field to his pond.
William was delighted, casting his line out, and watching the greedy blue gills take the bait every single time. He reeled in probably a dozen fish. He was having the time of his life.
We made our way around the large pond, casting out from different places. At one point, he managed to snag a bass. It was not one of the super sized ones, but it was decent and it put up a whale of a fight, and William was beside himself. Just as he was bringing it to shore, it managed to pull away, taking the hook with him (which made squeamish grandma all the more squeamish).
William set up a huge hullaballoo about that and his grandpa said 'Settle down. Sometimes that happens. Sometimes the fish wins. You can't have a tantrum every time things don't go the way you want, etc." William swallowed his gulping sobs. Grandpa doesn't often raise his voice, but when there is a stern note, William attends immediately.
The fishing continued, and more blue gills were caught. Some of the larger ones put up a struggle. William would exclaim, "I think it's another bass!" and when he reeled it in, he was very disappointed to see it was another blue gill.
We fished until William got hungry, and packed our stuff up and headed up the hill to the car, and although he was hungry, he still fretted about leaving. He wanted to try again, just one more time, because he really wanted to catch a bass. (The last time we went fishing there, he caught a two foot long bass. He was so excited he nearly went into the water with it.)
"No," we told him firmly, "it's time to go now," and we headed off to the car, grandma carrying the bucket with the worms, grandpa carrying the vest with all the fishing tackle, and William carrying his trusty little fishing pole.
On the way up there, William began to complain that he had not had any fun, because all he caught were those blue gills.
We looked at him, both of us, and said, "You had a lot of fun. If you're going to act like that every time that things don't go your way, you're going to have a very disappointing life, mister. We also mentioned that maybe we should not take him fishing anymore, because if he did not catch the fish he wanted it would make him upset.
William digested this, and offered up that he would really like to go fishing again. We suggested he think about his attitude.
When his mom came to pick him up after work, he said "I had a fun day! We went fishing! I caught many fish. They were blue gills." He even talked about the one that got away.
It was a simple moment, but I think about that. Children are so catered to sometimes. They must never be disappointed. They must never be sad.
But that is not life.
Learning to manage disappointment is important. Fishing will do that for a kid.