Surprise

As I was getting ready to mow the lawn yesterday, I decided to offer my oldest son $20 to mow the back. He did it once before, and I figured he could use both the money and the exercise.

“Nah,” he said. “I’m good.”

“Twenty dollars?” I said. “You’re turning down twenty dollars?”

“Yeah. I’m okay.”

Grumbling, I went out to mow, only to discover I was out of gas. When I got back from the gas station, I offered again. He still wasn’t interested.

“Okay,” I said. “But you’re missing out.”

“On what?” he asked.

“The time is coming when you won’t get paid for mowing, when it’ll just be one of your chores. You might as well get paid when you can.”

“Nah.”

I mowed the front lawn, and then came inside one more time. “I’m going to trim the front. You sure you don’t want to mow the back? You could do it while I trim?”

“Nah,” he said. “I’m good.”

After the front lawn, I went to the back porch where he was playing on his tablet. His mom was also on the porch, getting caught up on some schoolwork.  “You sure you don’t want to earn twenty dollars?” I asked him.

“I just don’t want to,” he said, exasperated. “I’m relaxing!”

I smiled. “Mow the lawn.”

“What?” He stood up. “I told you I don’t want to.”

“That was when I was offering you money,” I said. “Now you’re doing it for free. Welcome to your new chore.”

His mouth literally dropped open.

“I told you the time was coming.” I said.

He turned to his mother for help, but she was trying, rather unsuccessfully, not to laugh. “He did warn you.”

“You didn’t say it was coming now,” he said, looking back and forth between us.

His mom nodded toward the backyard.

“Do you need me to start the mower for you?” I asked. “It can be hard to pull.”

Giving a wordless grunt of frustration, he stomped into the kitchen. “I’m getting a drink first.”

My wife chuckled. “It’ll be good for him,” she said in an undertone. “He hasn’t had any exercise all day.”

“Good,” I said. “I was worried I was being too tough on him.”

We watched through the open door as he poured himself a slow drink of water.

His little brother, who had obviously been listening, sauntered into the kitchen, grinning widely. “You have to mow the law-awn.”

I stepped inside quickly. “Did you really just gloat?” I said. “Really?”

He froze, wide-eyed. “Um. . .”

“Congratulations,” I said. “You get to weed the rose garden.”

“No!”

“You know,” my wife said. “I’m thinking today is not the day to mess with Daddy.”

I don’t know. It worked out pretty well for me. I set up my computer next to hers, and got some writing done as the kids worked on the lawn.

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