If You Teach a Toddler to Fish…

My husband took our twins ice fishing. No, you heard me correctly. I love my husband, but clearly not enough to discourage him from taking my two 3 year olds off my hands for the day.

When my husband goes ice fishing, he likes to get an early start so he can savor the daylight hours and get in as much fishing as possible. So his plan for the day started with him waking them up nearly an hour early. I was kind enough to gently express some concerns about bringing mildly sleep deprived toddlers ice fishing for an entire day, but I was quickly admonished. 

“They’ll sleep during the hour drive up north.” He told me. Oh, that’s cute. You have two wired toddlers loaded up into your truck, ready to pee their pants (which they’re likely to do anyway) with excitement over the idea of ice fishing. They’re not going to sleep. The first rule of toddlers is: They never sleep when you want them to. The second rule of toddlers is: never wake a sleeping toddler, and the third rule of toddlers is: AHHHHHHHH! Stop talking about sleeping, you’re going to jinx it!

Ok.” I said in reply. Who was I to argue? I had a day with only one child to care for in my sights and I wasn’t going to risk ruining that by trying to give my husband helpful advice like, “by the way, our daughter usually poops about 3 times before lunch, so have fun with that out in the middle of an ice covered lake!” He’d figure it out, right? “I’ll see you all tonight! Have a fun day!” I said with a smile, as I shoved them out the door and locked it behind them.

Freedom! It was only about three hours later that I got a text that read “I can’t handle another minute of whining! Maybe I’ll try this again when they’re eight.” I resisted the urge to reply, “Welcome to my world, Daddy. I’ve changed the locks and won’t open the doors until our previously agreed upon evening return time, so don’t even think about packing it up and coming home.” Ends up, toddlers aren’t super keen on sitting and doing nothing while they wait for a fish to bite their line. But who could have predicted that?

On the other hand, little dude and I spent the day running errands in record time and remarkable silence. I’d forgotten what it was like to go to the store without fielding 700 questions from the peanut gallery about why we aren’t going to be purchasing ice cream cones or pop tarts. Then, after nap, we kind of just looked at a each other for a while and twiddled our thumbs. I’m not going to lie to you; it was amazing. 

I did feel guilty for a hot second, thinking of my sweet husband and our beautiful children out on the cold ice, attempting to snag fish for sport. I feigned a few “So how’s it going?” messages to satisfy my morbid curiosity. They eventually settled in and snagged a few trophy fish.  Which I’m told they promptly complained about not being able to immediately eat. 

Their day on the ice concluded with my son stepping in one of the holes in the ice and one really cold foot. Daddy brought them home at bedtime very soggy and completely exhausted. My daughter put on her pajamas, climbed into her own bed and literally put herself to sleep. In that moment, as I stood watching that scene with mouth agape, I’m pretty sure I heard angels singing. All the great mysteries of parenting and toddler psychology were clarified before my eyes, and I’d be selfish not to impart that wisdom to all of you:

If you give a toddler a fish, he’ll whine about not being able to eat it. If you teach a toddler to fish, OMG THEY COME HOME EXHAUSTED AND GO RIGHT TO BED. 

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