Proper Child Rearing
Cliff Hatton takes a look at the ‘proper’ way to introduce kids to the delights of angling.
The hazards of introducing your kids to fishing at a tender age cannot be over-stated: get it wrong and you could steer your nipper away from the river and straight into the clutches of the personal computer.
To avoid the tragedy of such a development it is vitally important for fishing-fathers (and, perhaps, a few mothers) to put aside their personal piscatorial preferences and to view the novelty of fish-catching through the eyes of their young offspring. Remember, if the weather is bad or the water hard, there’s little chance of your little ‘un taking to the sport for the challenge - he or she wants action!
He (for it is a boy for literary convenience) will almost certainly have no interest in a form of fishing requiring patience at best or a six month campaign in pursuit of ‘Old One Eye’ at worst: activity and immediate personal success are vital for further, prolonged interest in the Gentle Art. Just think of the damage you could do to your child’s future...his happiness...his development as a fully-rounded, well-adjusted citizen: it really doesn’t bear thinking about, but think about it we must.
Imagine being the father of a lower-double child who cannot distinguish between a coot and a moorhen, a perch and a ruffe...a boy who speaks of ‘Cobalt’, ‘Java’, ‘Prolog’ and ‘Banna Basic’ and gets excited when a new reality-game comes on the market. Envisage if you dare the disappointment of a son steeped in software, Grand Theft Auto, Gangsta Rap or football!! Imagine the profound shame of raising a son with no concept of roach-odour, bream snot, midnight brew-ups and screaming reels. It’s nothing less than your worst nightmare.
You MUST get it right.
For boys to grow into proper men – fishermen – an intimate, reed-fringed farm pond or park lake must be found. They must have received a diversity of Christmas gifts comprising an 8 – 10ft rod, a fixed spool reel, a decent seat and a few ‘naff’ items designed to keep his attention on the tackle. Try a Barbie Doll, a pogo stick, a hula hoop and a game of Buckaroo or similar cheesy selection.
When you eventually make it down to the water find a spot where he’ll sink at least shin-deep into that irresistibly stinky black mud and leave him to extricate himself. Don’t help him. Allow the boy to go red in the face as he struggles to reach terra firma with both feet in his wellies and fervently hope he leaves at least one boot stuck in the quag. It’s the only way, you know.
Once he’s out – boots or no boots – treat him to a small bottle of Tizer, a sandwich and a Penguin. It’ll put the joie de vivre back into his life and make him appreciate good food. Let him get mucky. Indulge his fascination with maggot-racing. Set him up with a nicely-cocked float, a size 14 hook and bait that squirms. Sit him down in his Christmas Chair and tell him all about the fish and the bees.
When his float eventually slides away, be on hand to advise him like the Crabtree you’ve become: “Strike, Peter!” Never mind his curious glance – you’ve done your job and you can explain to little Liam a little later...
He won’t understand, of course, but the excitement of contacting another life-form through a nylon telegraph will still be with him - forever more we hope.