“Where are you going Dada?” asked my four year old as I rounded up layers, snacks and a water bottle.
“Fishing,” I said.
“Oh yeah,” he said knowingly, like it had been his idea to begin with. “With Ollie’s dad.”
“Nope,” I said “Not with Ollie’s dad. All by myself today.”
“But um… Cause why Dada?” he asked.
“Sometimes I just like too,” I offered by way of incomplete explanation.
I could have recruited a wingman it’s true. If not Latane, certainly another of my fishing buddies would have been eager and able to abandon alternate commitments and head to the river. And I do choose, more often than not, to fish with friends. Angling qum amicus has a lot to recommend it after all. The advantages of fishing alone, by contrast, are a little more difficult to explain to a preschooler.
He stood blinking up at me with his head cocked. Clearly my half-assed answer wasn’t going to cut it.
I considered launching a discussion about the importance of periodic seclusion in today’s uber-connected world. I thought about describing how rarely we’re genuinely alone anymore. What effect, I almost asked him in my best Socratic parenting method, do you think never being enforceably self-dependent has? Would he get it if I simply explained that my phone doesn’t work in the canyon?
“Well, it’s quieter,” I tried. His knitted brow let me know I was still missing the mark, so I bumbled on. “Plus I can choose my own adventure.”
The youth literature reference escaped him. Had he gotten it though, it’s unlikely he’d have envisioned the impromptu sun drenched boulder naps, or the mink tracking detours through the brush that I had in mind.
“Catching a fish all by yourself can be lots of fun,” I added, taking a different tack. But his fish have all been landed amid hoots, hollers and high-fives. How could he understand yet the sensation of cradling a wild fish, in a wild place, with no human witness, or the solitude that swallows you whole when it swims away?
“You going to play with Mom while I’m gone?” I asked, opting for a change of subject.
“Nah, I’m gonna go play by the creek, maybe draw some pictures.”
Maybe he’s picking up what I’m putting down after all.