Essay by Timothy O’Dell
I am a dad to three boys, ages five years to four months, and my oldest son, Davy, was diagnosed with combined type ADHD a little more than a year ago. Davy has always been a highly active and impulsive child, which can make it a challenge to get and keep his attention. Over the years, we have found that getting Davy outside helps him be more attentive and calmer. He loves hiking through woods and searching for different animals, but he is even happier when those hikes take him near the water, and he has the opportunity to get all wet and dirty.
For Father’s Day this year, my boys gave me a tenkara fishing rod from Tenkara Rod Co., which may have just been a ploy by Davy to get himself and his brother Max closer to, and into, the water. Living in the southwestern suburbs of Chicago, the purists’ definition of tenkara fishing does not really apply to the fishing we do. We mainly search our local fishing lakes, ponds, and rivers and we catch mostly bluegill, but we enjoy every moment of it.
Davy keeps track of which species of fish we have caught in addition to a running total of how many fish we have caught this year. Probably more important to Davy than the total number of fish we have caught, or their size is that each fish is released after we catch it. And at the end of each fishing trip, Davy usually has wet feet and possibly wet pants too, with the exception being the time he and Max laid down in the water to get a closer look at the fish. When Davy and I get home after each trip, he runs inside to share with his mom and brothers how successful the trip was and provides details of each catch.
I am completely happy when Davy and I fish with a tenkara rod, even if we are catching predominantly bluegill, as it has given me another way to spend time outside with Davy. It has also allowed Davy to be fully present while surrounded by nature. He is not only learning how to catch fish (and release them), but he is also learning how to respect Mother Nature and have fun while learning this important lesson. I am grateful that fishing with a tenkara rod has allowed me to see my son discover another aspect of nature, even if it means he will be all wet when it is time to go home.
Timothy O’Dell lives in Joliet, Illinois with his wife and three boys and has recently added his new obsession of tenkara to his list of outdoor hobbies.
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