At the end of last autumn, on the last day of lawn mowing season, my lawn mower died. It was killed, actually, by a baseball bat lying unseen in the grass. The blade caught it and whipped it in a powerful circle. I was lucky enough to escape unscathed, but the spinning bat bent the lawnmower's blade and tore off it's power-assist front wheel.
Oh well, I'd been having problems with it, so now I really had an excuse to buy a new one.
As spring slowly set in after a three-week long tugging fest with the remnants of winter, I watched as some of my more lawn-conscious neighbors changed the oil in and gassed up their trusty mowers. I watched them mow and thought to myself, "Gee, I'd be out there too if my lawnmower worked."
It was actually kind of nice.
Alas, "So dawn goes down to day, nothing gold can stay." Yes, yesterday's weather was splendid--sublime, even--so I checked the paper for some sales and eventually made my way to Lowe's. Mark, of course, wanted me to get a riding mower. "Get a tractor one, daddy!" But I was looking to spend less than $200.
I had something else in mind as well, and it confirmed a long standing suspicion that I had held like a grudge ever since I was about eight years old. That's when I started mowing the lawn for my parents.
At first it was a blast. I still remember being asked if I wanted to cut the grass. It never looked like work. It looked like fun. I loved the noise and the sense of power. I enthusiastically agreed to do so, and I tried my hardest to do a good job and show my folks that I was indeed becoming a man.
After a few times, however, I began to suspect that I had been duped. Every parent has heard this one, "You guys just had me so that you could make me work around the house." And when confronted with household chores, that's exactly how most kids feel. Eventually, I grew and dismissed such feelings as adolescent nonsense. Up until I stood there at Lowe's looking at lawnmowers.
I planned on saving fifty bucks by getting a simple push-mower with no power-assistance. However, that's when it dawned on me. Natalie will soon by seven. In a year, she can be mowing the lawn. Wouldn't it be nice of me to put up the extra money to get one that will lessen her labor? So I started looking at the $250 model.
And then, a glimpse of the Promised Land: and unlike Moses, I was about to get there.
For a mere $300, I could get a self-propelled lawnmower with an electric start. That way, she wouldn't even need to yank back on the cord. She could just turn the key.
And that's when I realized that I had been somewhat right all those times I had quietly cursed my parents for enslaving me in the fields (i.e. the yard on our suburban cul-de-sac). It occurred to me that I had been wrong by a shade. I should not have said, "You guys just had me so that you could make me work around the house." I should have said, "One of the reasons that you guys had me was so that you could make me work around the house."
Of course, I defended myself with the standard parent retorts: "When I was a kid, I had chores;" and "It'll help build character;" and "It's about time that the kids did something to earn their keep." Besides, Natalie's not old enough just yet, so it'll still be me for awhile.
So I bought the $300 model.
I brought it home and showed it off to my wife and kids. It sure looked nice, sitting there in the driveway as I scanned the manual and filled it with oil and gas.
I thought to myself, "Man, I have a nice lawnmower." Then I thought to myself, "Damn, I have a lawnmower."
So I started to cut the grass. I was about a third of the way done with the front lawn when Natalie came out and asked if I could show her how to do it. I explained how to start it, how to engage the powered wheels, and how to cut straight along the lines with a slight overlap on the freshly cut side. She loved it, so I stopped her and took over again before she realized that it is work. That moment will come soon enough, and for it I cannot wait.