By Deb Levy
About the Writer:
Deb Levy is a writer, graphic designer, mother-of-three and devotee of hip-hop dance.
Along with the important details of date, time and weight, my birth announcement read as follows: Lydia and Bill are pleased to announce the arrival of their new lawnmower, Debra Lisa …
The story goes that when my mom was pregnant with me, her first child, my father used to say, “I don’t care if it’s a boy or a girl. Our kid’s going to mow the lawn.” I remember being horribly offended by that little pink card which introduced me to the world as a giant power tool. “That’s something you’d say about your 8th child, not your first!” I cried often, as I was wont to do when hormones began raging through my preteen body. “You made a mockery of my birth!” But apparently they thought it was cute and I, their firstborn, lacking in humor.
Throughout the years, child labor rights activists turned a blind eye as I weeded the garden and vacuumed the pool and folded the family’s laundry, but let it be known that I never, in fact, maintained the pastures of our half-acre suburban lot.
So imagine my surprise when my firstborn, a boy of almost 11 years, turned to me the other day and said, “Can I mow the lawn?” I picked my jaw up out of the tall grasses and said, “Uh, sure?” He wasn’t asking a theoretical question; he wanted to improve the curb appeal right at that moment. Which I was more than thrilled about, as the grass in our front yard was creeping up towards my shins. But still, was he really old enough?
We borrowed an electric mower from our neighbors (our mower was being repaired) and I trailed after my little guy holding the cord, like a handmaiden scooping up the train of a queen’s regal gown. I didn’t want him to accidentally run over the power cable.
My son did an admirable job, though he needed help with the initial push after each turn around. (The handle of the mower came up to his nose, so it was hard to get the proper leverage from his shorter vantage point.) Still, he avoided the bed of impatiens and left clearly defined trails of varying shades of green, just like a professional. He even noticed, and trimmed, the mohawk by the front walk without my having to point out that he missed a spot. (Not that I would have pointed out anything negative. I wanted to instill enough confidence to make this a habit.) And he mowed the lawn of the elderly couple living next door to us, just like my husband does, without batting an eyelash. He knows that extra yardage is just part of the job.
When my son finished, he surveyed the land with pride. And I looked at his freckled face and narrow shoulders thinking about the new era of parenting I had – without warning or preparation - just entered. One in which I can slowly, and with fits and starts I’m sure, begin to hand over the reins. First the lawn, perhaps babysitting is next? I saw the faint glimmer of a future when I might actually be able to sit and read the paper on the weekend while my offspring takes care of me for a change.
I told my son I was so proud of him and that I would pay him $5 for his labor. His eyes lit up. Mine did, too, as I crafted in my head what I wanted to broadcast to the world… Deb and David are THRILLED to announce the arrival of their new lawnmower.
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