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Someone’s going fishing

It was after 10pm and my husband and I had just gotten the three boys into bed. Summer it seemed had its own schedule which was basically no schedule.

I went into my 9 year-old son’s room to say goodnight but instead of a sleepy hug, he greeted me with a firm directive.

“I’m not going to camp tomorrow.”

It was not unusual for any of my three boys to randomly request a day off but usually it was more of a plea than a demand. I sighed. I wasn’t in the mood for negotiations. I really wanted to be downstairs watching Breaking Bad. My husband and I were in the final 3 episodes.

“Really?” I questioned. I was pretty adept at sidestepping this appeal and sending them on their merry way. They had a limited camp schedule to begin with, and I had no intention of losing a day to myself for no good reason. “Why?”

“It’s the fishing trip. I don’t want to go.”

“Why?” I asked again, searching for more.

“It’s boring.” He answered, but his tone was already exasperated.

“But you’ve never gone on a fishing trip. A lot of your friends love it. You might too.” I thought it was a reasonable argument, but I should know better than to reason with my middle son, especially after a long day.

“I don’t care what anyone else likes!” He yelled, sounding on the verge of tears. Then he flipped over in his bed to face the wall and ordered me out. I had lost him.

But instead of leaving him be as I should, I pressed on, hoping to draw him out.

“Is there a reason you don’t want to go fishing?”

“I just don’t want to!”

Feeling like there must be more to his adamant refusal, I continued casting questions aimlessly about to my exhausted, stubborn child, who I couldn’t even convince earlier on to try a cupcake I baked.

“Are you afraid of the water? Do you not want to touch fish? Or bait? Did something happen at camp today that upset you?”

“I don’t want to go!” He cried.

I stood there in the silent aftermath, staring at his back, considering my next move.

“But if…”

“Just go!” He finally yelled.

Annoyed at his tone but more at his unwillingness to share, I left frustrated.

This was my son who wanted to sing, played recorder, piano and was considering drums. He played soccer, tae kwon do, football, baseball, tennis, gaga and of course baseball. This morning he announced that he was also a runner and wanted to do our town’s annual 5 mile Thanksgiving run with me this year.

I just didn’t understand. He was always up for anything.

Except fishing.

I wanted to delve deeper and get to the bottom of things, but I apparently I couldn’t hook him.

Today just wasn’t my day. Maybe tomorrow.

I could wait.

The only fish that's happening around here.

Home fishing

 

Uh oh. It runs in the family.

With coupons shoved in his overstuffed wallet, Howard was heading out the door for a run to the market.  You’re thinking, Bravo! Your husband goes supermarket shopping. Au contraire, there would be no food or household items purchased on this outing. The market Howard frequents sells bats and balls, chest protectors and cups. Are you really surprised? Really?

Howard takes his sports shopping seriously. He goes from store to store looking for the best deal, and uses coupons to such advantage that even I’m impressed. Anyway, as he was leaving, I realized that Tyler was (yet again) in need of another water bottle, so I mentioned that he should pick one up.

“What happened to his last one?” Howard asked suspiciously. Tyler does not have a great track record for being responsible. I can’t be too hard on him. I forget people. He forgets things.

“It’s not easy to drink from.” I casually say. This was true. It was very difficult to drink from a bottle you couldn’t find.

Thankfully, he didn’t press. We both know Tyler is the kind of  kid who can drink his water and then five minutes later genuinely ask, “What happened to my water?” That boy has his head in the clouds. It’s almost not his fault. For years we barely let his golden feet touch ground.

About two hours later, Howard comes home with, among other things – a bucket for balls, a new bat for Julius, astro-turf cleats for Tyler and a new water bottle. It’s state of the art. The price tag says $30. Now it’s my turn to be skeptical. “Really honey? Why don’t we just throw $30 in the garbage and tell him to just find a water fountain because that’s where we’ll probably be in a week.”

We take turns being the heavy. This time, Howard convinced me that it was fine, and that with his coupons he had paid closer to $20. Well okay then, if you say so. Turns out, a week was way optimistic.

Monday (About to get on the bus for camp.)  – “Here’s your new water bottle. Don’t lose it okay? It was expensive.” Tyler nods absently. “Tyler?! Did you hear me?” Another vacant nod. “The water bottle.” I repeat and hold it up in his face and point, trying to maintain eye contact and using short sentences. “Don’t lose.” Tyler smiles his sheepish grin and nods. I think he heard me. I think.

Later  (Coming off the bus) – “Hey, how was camp?” I go through his back pack, taking out a sopping wet towel. Oh no. I check the side pockets and go through it again. “Uh, Tyler, where’s your water bottle?” Vacant stare. “Tyler.” I repeat. “The w a t e r b o t t l e.” I really am afraid of the teen-age years.
He shrugs. “I forgot it.”
“But you know where it is.” I encourage.
He nods vacantly. I want to shake him. He’s too old for the shaken baby thing, right? “Bring it home tomorrow. Okay? O K A Y ?” Vacant nod. Sigh.

Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday – Repeat Monday.

All week I say, “Don’t worry, we won’t tell daddy. Just bring it home.” Every day he walks in, back pack slung over his shoulder and an excuse cast from his lips. “I meant to, but we had to go to lunch.” “I was about to, but then we started a knock-hockey tournament.” “I had it, but then forgot it again.”

I’m writing it off, considering going back to the store to get another to save Tyler the misery of explaining to Howard how he lost yet another thing.

Friday – Tyler gets off the bus, walks directly to the couch and slumps over in tears. This is new. “What? Did something happen? Was someone not nice? What?” He shakes his head and finally lifts his arm producing, TADA, the water bottle. “Yay!” I almost clap, but just stop myself. “You found it. Great. So what’s the matter?”

He looks at me, tears welled and says, “I forgot my backpack.”