To some people I’m doing a bad thing on Friday. I’m forcing my child to miss a day of school. It wouldn’t be so bad, but so far this year he’s had perfect school attendance. One of just six or seven students in his small school who can still claim they’ve had no blemishes on their attendance record. And to make matters even worse, to reward the students with perfect attendance at the end of the year, the school is giving away two bikes as prizes drawn from a hat.
Wow…his odds of winning a new bike would be quite impressive. Still, I’m not allowing him to go to school on Friday. I am such a terrible stepfather. What am I doing with him instead, you might ask? Hell, we’re going fishing. That’s right! This weekend marks the official Minnesota fishing opener and this year Fish Camp is once again seductively calling out both of our names.
For those readers who might be new to this blog let me say that for some of us opening day of fishing in Minnesota is a BIG thing. It usually happens the second Saturday of May, which means most times the boys are gone over Mother’s Day weekend, but the tradition has lived on for some of us so long a part of our soul would simply die if we just didn’t head north to the lake.
This happens to be Luke’s first time heading north with the gang. Oh, his mother was not real keen on letting her little boy join the “men” in camp at the ripe old age of only 11 years, but I finally convinced her it was time. Indeed, there comes a time in the maturation of all sportsmen when they must join “the club,” so to speak.
Needless to say Luke is excited…and I am excited for him, as well. The experiences he’s going to discover this weekend will truly last him a lifetime. And I dare say the life lessons he’s about to learn while in camp will far surpass any opportunity cost of what he would have learned while in school for that one day. Suffice it to say, no matter how you want to look at it, this IS an excused absence from school for what I like to call “a little home schooling.”
Luke won’t be the only youngster in fish camp this spring. There will be other kids approximately his age also skipping school. Sure, there are the nay-sayers who will tell me that it is utterly foolish to take a young child away when he should be in school learning with his peers. To that statement I simply say HOG-WASH. On one day each year Luke is learning that sacrificing studies is acceptable when it comes to going fishing with the guys on opening weekend. What do you think that tells a young boy? Maybe that fishing is not only fun…but the activity is serious enough that a first day missed from school is perfectly acceptable?
Hey, I’m one who normally advocates perfect school attendance as being critical in the development of good future career skills in most children. Still, I am not faulting Luke for wanting to miss school and break his current perfect attendance record. More importantly, what message will be sent to his classmates as to why he will be gone. “Oh, Luke’s dad took him fishing.” Absolutely perfect. I want all of his cohorts in school to realize that Luke is one lucky kid getting to go fishing rather than learn geometry, social studies, and so forth on that day.
Yup, I’m just a terrible dad enabling my stepson to do something ordinarily frowned upon by most parents. In the end, I am also extremely confident that my actions will someday reap great rewards as I fuel the intrigue of another young person’s soul for the importance of living life as a sportsman.
2008 Jim Braaten. All Rights Reserved. No Reproduction without Prior Permission.