Mowing the Grass: A Battle for the Mower
Son Learning to Mow
My Husband and I rarely argue. I can list only a couple of things that we don’t see eye to eye on. They are not important so they really don’t matter. I don’t understand why he yells at the TV during sporting events. They can’t hear him. He doesn’t understand why I cannot exhibit any amount of patience after I come up with a new idea. Things can wait.
One thing we don’t see eye to eye on and are forever compromising is who is going to mow the grass. We both want to do it!
My Early Experiences With Lawn Care
I am shocked in recalling that some of my first memories of being a child involved lawn care. I am the youngest of nine children. When number 8 was on the way, they moved to the house I grew up in and where my parents still live. I am not sure if they were doing the previous neighbors yards before we moved or exactly how this came about. I just know that we cut 2 yards back in the old neighborhood.
I Don’t Know
Even when I was young, I went along. My sister, 15 months older, and I had to handclip the steps leading up to the house. I would be curious how many steps there actually are. Using my memory from 35 years ago, there are 20. There are probably 5. We never wore gloves and always ended up with a blister. The ladies who lived in the house were sisters who shared the home. I think they were in their 90s. One had married and was now a widow. One had never married.
They would invite us in after the yard was complete and offer us a Cream Soda float. They would ask us each week if we wanted the float. As young, indecisive kids, we would say, “I don’t know.” I think we were being polite and not disrespectful. They would say, “If you don’t know, then you don’t”. We learned to say yes if we wanted something. This was a life lesson learned early. Things, like cream soda floats, will pass you by if you don’t say, “Yes” when you mean yes.
Eyes Like An Eagle
Like I mentioned, they were older ladies, and I think their eyesight might not have been 20/20. My sister and I got a quarter for doing the trimming. Sometimes we both got a quarter. Sometimes one got a quarter and one got a half dollar. We were confused. My older sisters explained that maybe they didn’t see well. We were still confused. They couldn’t see the difference between a half dollar and a quarter but they always saw if we missed clipping a blade of grass 20 feet away. Regardless, we said, "Thank You!" Looking back, I wonder if they purposefully gave us different coins to see our reaction and teach us another lesson.
My Son Learning to Use the Clippers
My 1st Solo Gig
Eventually, the older neighbors passed away and only one yard was left. I am not sure at what age, but I inherited this yard as my own. I am going to guess I was around 12. I would ride my bike about .5 miles on a busy street, thru a cemetery and down a steep, but small, drop into the yard I mowed. I would get out the mower, add gas and check the oil. I cleaned the spark plug. I would then start the mower. Let’s remember, this was almost 30 years ago. I could not inherit the yard until I could start the mower on my own. This was the kind you put your right foot on the side of the mower and then pull the cord up as fast as you could. This usually took a few good pulls. Sometimes you had to then quickly pull the mower back on its hind wheels so that it would start. Once the mower started, you never shut it off. There was no guarantee it would start again that quickly the next time.
It was not propelled like they are today and I always bagged the grass. Mulching and self-propelled mowers were either not made yet or we just didn’t have one. When the yard was done, I would the sweep the driveway. We always cleaned the mower after each use. It seemed as though the grass was usually wet when I started. I would flip the mower on its side, use the putty knife and clean the bottom. When the job was done, I would get my $10 from the secret spot and head home. I think I mowed this yard until our former neighbor no longer lived there.
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My 2nd Yard
In high school I mowed our next door neighbor’s grass. This yard took me about 45 minutes to an hour depending on the need to catch it. I would work out in the morning for volleyball and then come home and mow the grass. I mowed this yard until I left for college.
Why I Enjoy Mowing
At first I mowed grass for the money. There are few things you can do for money at age 12. When I was a teenager, I still mowed grass. While my friends were choosing to babysit, I still preferred mowing lawns. I guess I have always enjoyed the ‘me’ time I get mowing. I used to day dream about everything and nothing while I mowed. Paying attention to follow the lines you have created or realizing you need to turn, aren’t mentally taxing. I enjoyed the mindless exercise. To this day, I enjoy the repetitive back and forth, allowing me one hour of time to think about nothing if I so chose.
Great Lawncare Books
Battle For The Mower
So now I am married and my husband has this same love of mowing. While I enjoy mowing, he is more particular. He likes to mow north/south, then east/west and then on a diagonal. I just liked to mow the grass. For the first couple years of our marriage, I let him mow. It wasn’t that big of a deal and he was, self-proclaimed, better at it.
The Mower Was Mine
About 3 years ago, my husband started on a new project that took him to Mexico City about every 2 weeks for about 10 days per trip. Watching the kids was one thing. I needed to get back into my lawn mowing routine. Grass where I live will not hold out 10 days between cuttings. We often start and end the season at about once per week. In the middle of the summer, assuming no droughts, we will do it about every 3-4 days.
At this point, I only had my 2 sets of twins. I would set them up with a show inside and mow the grass. I took a break about every 15 minutes to check on them. They were only allowed outside if there was an emergency. We reviewed what an emergency is. We reviewed that needing to go potty was not something of which I needed to be notified.
During that summer, I found out I was expecting. This affected my energy level, but I still stuck to my routine. My husband would return from trips and thank me for taking care of the yard work. Then a few days would pass and he would be getting the mower started. I would say, ‘Hold on. I mow the grass now.” I agreed that he could mow the grass when he was home. I got to do it when he was gone.
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A New Routine
The next summer, I had a baby. My husband was still traveling and I was still mowing. I needed to put the baby down for a nap and start the grass right away. This time instead of popping in to see if the older 4 were ok, I needed to listen for the baby, too.
Last summer, my baby was just over a year and just taking the afternoon nap. The older 4 were now 4 and 5 and I trusted them to play outside when I was mowing. They knew the rules. I sent one in periodically to listen for the youngest.
Your Turn To Mow
Toward the end of the summer, I made sure the kids had their shoes on when I was mowing. After I had outlined enough of yard, the kids started taking turns helping out. One at a time, the 4 oldest took turns mowing the grass.
This is how I started. I used to beg to mow. Mowing the grass is what all the big kids did. Perhaps in the back of my mind I was hoping that I could hang up the hand clippers and get rid of the blisters.
They would take their turns. Unlike the mower I grew up using, if you let go of a certain part of the handle, the mower stopped. It was self-propelled but they needed to be able to control the mower. For this reason, they walked in front of me doing most of the work, but my hands stayed on the mower.
My Future Lawn Mowers
New World Order
This summer might be different. I might be able to box in a few areas and let the kids take their turns mowing. They are only 7, but this could turn into a great summer job for them as they grow up.
I enjoy watching my kids grow up. I love that they are learning life skills. They are proud when they are helping out the family. They are growing up so quickly. In a few years, spring will roll around and a handful of us will be eying the mower. The group will be discussing,"Who gets to mow the lawn?"
Until then, I will happily take my remaining turns. I am not sure how many I have left.© 2012 Karen Lackey