Let’s be honest here – most people don’t like yard work.
We all love to have a great looking yard, but the mowing and weeding and trimming can get to be a pain after a while. I will admit that having a riding lawnmower has made it much better, but it is still sweaty work.
When you are a kid, it is even worse. As a kid, you felt no ownership about how your yard looked. Long grass and weeds? No problem. Your friends didn’t care, although your parents really seemed to.
My wife and I were driving home the other day and passed a kid who looked to be about 10 out in the front yard of his house “raking.” And by raking, I mean raking like a kid would. He was haphazardly throwing the rake out and dragging it back, but not really raking anything into piles.
He was also doing it while the look on his face had that classic kid mixture of anger, boredom and fear. Angry to have to be doing this instead of something constructive, like playing a video game or picking his nose. Bored because, well, raking grass is boring. And fear because dad was probably watching his lackluster progress from the front window while sipping a cold one.
I knew the look well because I, too, was once a kid forced to do things that I didn’t want to do. And by that, I mean pretty much everything. And by pretty much everything, I mean every single thing my parents wanted me to do.
But we were good about getting out of stuff as kids, weren’t we? We were little connivers. A fake stomach ache here, a planned visit to a friend’s house there and boom! No yard work.
But that didn’t always fly, when I was a kid or when I was a parent and my son tried to pull it on me.
One thing that did work was doing a horrible job. Sure, I’ll mow the yard, dad. What’s that? I mowed over the flowers and missed a bunch of spots? Sorry about that!
My own son did that to me the very first time I had him mow the yard.
“Move in a straight line,” I said. “No matter what, keep it straight.”
About 10 minutes later I look outside and he is doing figure eights in the yard with the mower. Mowing straight? No. He was carving complex geometric shapes by accident in the yard. He wasn’t even paying attention. At all.
It worked. I grabbed the mower, sent him inside and did the job myself.
When I think about it, much of my childhood was spent try to not do things my parents wanted me to do. The list included yard work, cleaning my room, doing the dishes, doing my homework, not whining when my older brother picked on me.
You know, the usual.
Seeing that kid out there the other day looking like he had the worst life of any kid ever made me feel good. Not because he was doing something that he didn’t want to do, but that he was carrying on the long tradition of kids acting like brats.
Good job kid. Good job. Now go clean your room, you little degenerate.