My husband and I had two daughters and one son. We always said each of our kids had their special place in our family. My daughter was the first and oldest child, which gave her that special space, and my son was in the middle but the only boy so that was special, and my youngest was a girl and the baby so that was her special place.
My husband is and was a great dad and with our son. He had an immediate connection because they were the only guys in the house. It was easy for me to develop a close relationship with my girls. We had a lot in common, not just because we were the same gender, but our personalities fit well together even though we were different in many ways. We had developed a bond easily choosing activities and flowing from activity to activity with ease. We had a connection that was effortless to maintain. I decided early on that as a mom I would need to make sure that I developed a good relationship with my son. I knew it would not be as effortless as with the girls, but I had had three brothers and I had grown up on a farm. We had gone hunting and fishing, and I was somewhat of a tomboy. So I decide to plan a couple of days together just him and me.
I took a couple of days off and told him to hitch up the fishing boat. I borrowed a friend’s cabin for the night. I told my son to pack for fishing, just him and me, and I was hoping that what I had planned would meet the clear excitement and anticipation I could see on his face. We got up early the next morning and drove up north to Crookneck Lake by Randall, Minnesota. We launched the boat after careful bait selection at the local shop and with our lunch cooler. We were lucky enough to have a really warm sunny day that allowed a comfortable full day in the boat. We discussed bait choices, depths to try for different fish and sometimes just sat in silence. As the day wore on the conversation became less superficial as we settled into a rhythm and the unwritten understanding in that no topic was off limits and there would be no judgment. We laughed together, we sometimes clumsily pulled in fish together, and we had the best day on the water anyone could hope for.
We caught a small Northern Pike and a crappie just enough for a little dinner. As a little chill started in the air, we made our way to the cabin and I handed my son the staking knife and even though he had seen fish cleaned before he had never actually done it himself. I gave him a few tips as he completed the task and the pride I could see in his eyes trumped the fact that the fillets looked like they had been through a meat grinder. We cooked up the fillets and washed them down with a beer that I brought to share even though he was not quite drinking age.
After dinner we built a fire and I put in the original Red Dawn movie and there alone in the cabin, warm cheeked from the days wind and sun, we watched high school boys save the United State of America with their guns and pickup truck. We shared one more beer and as the movie came to an end we could feel the tiredness, one only feels from all day outdoor activities, and we sunk into our beds. The next day we swam in the lake to cool off after a sunny day in the boat and headed back home. I knew it would be fun just to be together and do outdoor things, but I did not realize how really special it would be. Such a simple concept that did not require spending a lot of money created a lifelong memory for both of us. Teenage boys are not the best at expressing themselves, but he talked about our fishing trip for years. I would listen with pride when he would always start with, “My mom and I had the best bro weekend ever, we fished and watched Red Dawn up north at a cabin.” In all the things we do as parents that we question and wonder if we did them right, or could have done something better, this was a perfectly planned and executed bonding between mother and son.