Sunday, April 20, 2008

Yard Work

We have a friend coming over tomorrow to cut up a tree that fell during a recent storm. It's been dead for sometime, but nothing around here gets done very quickly. I've learned to step around household repair jobs that stretch into months and repeating my honey-do wish a thousand times or more is a given. This is the flipside to living with an easygoing guy and one I'm generally resigned to. But, I digress. The dead tree fell directly across the area I want to put a garden in so it had to go.

Because I don't want anyone to know how we really live, I spent yesterday cleaning house and lit a big fire under the boys to clean their rooms. Sometimes these fires have to be pretty hot and this Saturday was no different. The older boys required my opening their door and rousting them from in front of computer, off the guitar, off the phone and putting them back on task, but they were good natured about it and the room did get a thorough cleaning. The younger boys actually keep a pretty clean room; it's the older two that are pigs--which I find fascinating in light of the fact that they had more hands-on guidance from me than the younger two have. But that's not the point either.

Today we worked on the yard, cleaning up debris, gathering deadfall, and mowing. Everyone was remarkably cooperative. Sam cheerfully collected branches and Daniel helped pick up the scattered clutter that seems to be a constant part of our yard. I put my oldest to teaching the new thirteen year old how to handle the lawnmower. Jeremiah is sometimes inclined when teaching to yell instead of demonstrate. At some point, Joe was struggling with getting the thing started and Jeremiah was bellowing and Joe was getting frustrated. Daniel, who was working nearby, without input from me, strolled over and showed Joe the trick to starting it and strolled off. This is not typical of Daniel. It isn't that he doesn't care, he just doesn't tend to pay attention. Surely it was a fluke, I thought. A once in a lifetime glitch.

The backyard is a serious hassle to mow--with a huge slope where the septic tank sits and lots of rocks and small trees to work around. No one ever wants to mow it and the assignment is considered punishment, even when it's not. Without really thinking about it, I'd told Daniel to take the front yard and I was going to split the back with Jeremiah. I don't remember what my rationale was.

I was harassing Jeremiah about giving me the "hard part" of the backyard (it didn't matter which part--I was going to mock-complain either way because this is what they do to me). He paused in the middle of harassing me in turn, and blinked. "Wait. You're serious. Why are you mowing the back yard? There's no point in you hurting yourself. Daniel and I can handle that. You do the front."

This from the boy who stormed out the door and into the woods last summer because I ordered him to mow this same area of yard and he didn't think he should have to. (He was convinced I was picking on him especially).

I thought I'd heard wrong. "Are you serious?"

He looked over at Daniel who shrugged and said, "It's no big deal. We can handle it. Don't worry about it."

Had the Pod people come? Who were these creatures and what had they done with my sons?

"Yeah. You're not as young as you used to be, you know," said my oldest.

"Yeah. I've been meaning to mention your grey hair . . ."

No. Wait. There were my own rotten kids slurking beneath the surface. But still . . .

Every so often, they give me the hope that motherhood wasn't a whim I happened upon late on night in a fit of melancholy, after my hamster had died. and after one too many glasses of whiskey. You know that wonderful warm fuzzy euphoria accompanied by the illusion that you could love the whole world if only they'd stand still for a second? I highly recommend waiting until that wears off before making the decision to have children. I'm here to tell you, the hangover lasts eighteen years and I have yet to find an aspirin big enough to cope with the headaches.

But they did--mowed the whole back yard with very little argument. There's still some work that needs to be done at our treeline, but it will pass muster for now. I'm still reeling from the shock. What next? Speaking politely to one another? Putting their clothes in the laundry without prompting? Dare I dream?

Maybe this was a good idea. Maybe it's safe to take up drinking whiskey again . . .


debby said...

I remember my son Dylan standing at the bus stop. Suddenly he remembers that he forgot show and tell. He wants to take his new Teenage Mutant Ninja turtle which is in his top drawer 'on the window side of the room, at the top'. And it was. I was so excited at his organizational skills. He lives on his own now, but his bedroom carpet looks like new. That is because it always had a protective layer of clothing on top of it. He was so neat as a child. Turned into a pig.

Dennis Bryant said...

I assumed you knew--boys are genetically hard-wired to drive their mothers insane. Attempts to understand them will be futile. If it's any consolation, they will be similarly perplexed when they start dating and try to understand women. I'd either stay off the whiskey or buy enough to keep an even buzz going :-)

Mary Paddock said...

Hi Debby. Ohhh! Don't tell me that. I have great hopes for my youngest who is an organized neat freak. A girl has to have her dreams.

Dennis, thanks for the heads up. I kind of suspected that. My thirteen year old commented the other day that his girlfriend was fighting with her best friend, but he didn't know it until she told him. He was fascinated by how well they hid it.