Exploits in canoeing with small children


I finally got life jackets for all three kids and myself. Then we all chose paddles that were size appropriate for each of us. We couldn’t quite find one small enough for my son, but he insisted that he wanted to paddle. He could hardly hold the dang thing up, but he wanted to try and, in order to avoid a total melt down that I could sense was impending, I agreed to let him try it. He also decided he wanted to try fishing as well. UGH! 

We asked Nathan for a fishing rod and managed to find one that was only partially busted. The reel no longer worked but it had fishing line tied to it and a hook with a seriously dried out/petrified worm. My son was delighted. That would do!

Next up was selecting a canoe. The dock had about six canoes neatly stacked up against each other. Picking a canoe for me was no big deal…I would choose the first one in the stack, right? Oh, no! The first two in the stack were red and we HAD to have a yellow canoe. There was no arguing. So, I plunked down the paddles and the fishing rod and then wrestled with canoes for about a good ten minutes. This involved much grunting, groaning, silent cursing, and canoes crashing but I was finally successful in extricating the coveted yellow canoe and no one died. Meanwhile my son was attempting to fish off the side of the dock, while the girls sat bored on the dock watching my awesome maneuvers.

I gently pushed the front end of the canoe to the edge of the dock as it sloped into the water. We each grabbed our paddles. I, of course, had to grab my sons paddle too as he was holding his fishing rod. I straddled the back of the canoe to anchor it on the dock and provide stability as the kids got on. 

Daughter number two got on and sat on the front bench. My son got on, in a manner resembling a drunken sailor, nearly falling out about three times, fishing pole and all and then sat on the bottom of the canoe with a plunk.

My eldest daughter was under the assumption that she was going to sit at the back of the canoe and steer it. Nah uh, no way, Jose! So the next five minutes I had to attempt to gently convince her that her four classes in canoeing did not make her an expert in steering a canoe, and would she please get into the canoe and let me do it, and maybe, just maybe on the way back she could try?

This argument was to no avail and the natives were getting restless. Fast forward fives minutes and the canoe finally pushed off with daughter two in the front, my son behind her with his paddle on the floor of the canoe and him draped over the side looking for “fishies” with his pole entirely in the water, me behind him on my knees on the bottom of the boat and pitched to the opposite side to counter balance him, and daughter one behind me on the back seat as happy as a tornado in a trailer park. Grrrr. I gritted my teeth together. Patience, Anne, patience.

What I discovered on this canoe trip was that I was able to steer from the middle of the canoe with some success…but it had to be somewhat covert, otherwise daughter one noticed and took me to task.

“Mum! Let me do it!”


I also quite enjoyed (not really!) playing a game of “dodge the fishing rod” with my son who insisted that he must cast for fish. I guess he had seen someone do it and decided that he was going to try it too…while in a canoe…in close proximity to my face. Thankfully the petrified worm covered the barb of the fish hook, so I figured (wrongly) that the hook would probably not latch onto anything…even a fish. The thought of wrestling a fish in this canoe made me glad that everyone had life jackets on.

The canoe trip to the island, which probably would have taken two abled canoers about seven minutes, took us thirty as we zig zagged across the lake in lazy, drunken arcs. But the kids seemed to be having fun, and it was camp, so who cared how long it took anyway? It’s not like I had anything overly pressing on my schedule!


We finally arrived at the little island and the kids cheered. I said a silent prayer of thanks as I carefully stepped out of the canoe into the shallow waters and pulled it up onto the rocky shore of the island. I steadied the canoe again as the kids exited and scrambled up onto the island and started exploring. 

The kids tore around the island, which was in fact just one large rock jutting out of the water, about twelve feet from the shore of the north end of the lake. It was about thirty square feet in size and boasted a pine tree, a wild raspberry bush, some scrubby ground cover and some wildflowers. Huh. I concluded that my gardening skills sucked! I had a beautiful garden bed at home (sans rocks) and all I could manage to grow were dandelions! Sheesh.

I found a nice sized tree stump and sat down to watch the kids. After minimal sleep the last few nights and then running this morning, I was beat! The girls were crouched down looking at the tiny minnows along the shore in what they called ‘tide pools’. I watched as my son ran around calling “Fishy, fishy” and attempted to cast his hook into the lake with minimal success. The girls would run screaming if he came close. 

The kids happy explored for a good fifteen minutes while I sat and chilled on the stump. My mind wandered to the ER kids, the pregnancy test, and my ghost story that I had to tell at the campfire that night. I felt a surge of nervousness about all three things!

Once there was a lull in the activities I pulled the bag of gummy sharks from one of my many pockets on my shorts and call the kids over. They were super excited about their treats. I divvied them up evenly. There were two extras for me. Yay! Gummy sharks for me too!

My son plopped down on the ground and proceeded to eat his candy. The girls, however, decided they wanted to pretend to cook them over a fire. They managed to find some small rocks and formed a circle with them. Then they scouted around the island to find sticks and piled them in the center. They found a couple of extra long branches to act as their roasting sticks. The girls then pretended to light the fire after a couple of futile attempts at rubbing sticks together were unsuccessful. They made ‘whoosing’ sounds that were supposed to mimic the sound of a crackling fire. Then they sat on their haunches around the ‘fire’ and proceeded to impale the gummy sharks onto the sticks. 

“Shark shishkabobs! Nice!” I commented. They nodded, quite pleased with themselves. Then they began softly singing “Fires Burning”.

My son came over to investigate with his fishing pole in one hand. He had only one gummy shark left in his other sticky little hand. He wanted to have a shark shishkabob too! I grabbed a stick off the ground and motioned for my son to come over. He put his fishing rod down and ran over to me. I cleaned off the end of the stick and put his shark on the end of it and then impaled my two gummy sharks on there too. Boo. No gummy sharks for me. But, hey, he was happy so I didn’t care!

My son knelt down beside the girls and held his stick over the ‘fire’ and made cracking noises like his sisters had done. Things were good for about two minutes, until my son started to swing his stick around over the fire. The girls stopped singing, squealed and tried to duck the flailing stick to no avail. Daughter number one was covering her head and finally daughter number two got up to escape being poked. She crawled away and then scrambled to get up and then I noticed her stop abruptly. She looked down at her left hand which she drew up towards her face to examine more closely. As she did this, I noticed the fishing rod seemingly move along the ground on it’s own. I looked back at my daughter. She tilted her head to the side, appeared confused and then a look of complete and absolute terror clouded her face. She grabbed her left hand with her right hand and came running at me, screaming like a banshee. As she ran at me, the fishing rod seemed to become animated as it scuttled along behind her happily bouncing off the rocky ground. It was only then that it clicked. She had managed to get the fishing hook stuck in her finger! This was confirmed when she brought her finger up to my face and screamed.


So, I did what any mother would do. I gently lifted her hand up and I bit off the fishing line with my teeth. The hook now was free of the weight of the fishing pole at least. Then I turned to my son. His eyes were as big as saucers! He figured he was in deep trouble. I spoke to him very calmly.

“Looks like you managed to catch your sister.”


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