When we moved into our current house, I purchased a self-propelled push mower. I think they call them “walk-behind” mowers. Instead of pushing, you hold a lever (or something) to engage an engine that pulls the mower forward so that all you have to do is guide it.
The one I bought was big and heavy, but it had a great drive engine that made mowing the lawn a breeze.
Unfortunately, the drive engine broke inside of a year, leaving me with an incredibly heavy push mower. I spent the next several years fighting with the mower. The thing is way too heavy for my wife to use, though I did manage to recruit my oldest son to help. Last year, work became so busy that I no longer had the time to mow, so we paid a service.
When work became unexpectedly lighter this year, I cancelled the service, only to discover that the mower had died. As part of the repair, I paid to have the drive fixed.
Fast forward to a couple days ago, when my grumbling twelve-year old was being forced back into lawn service.
“Let me show you,” I said. “It’s different now.”
“I know how to mow.”
“But – ”
“I know what I’m doing!” He pushed the lever that disengages the drive mower.
When the drive mechanism broke, I started keeping it disengaged all the time, and that’s how I taught him. I don’t think he knew what the disengage lever did. He just knew that he had to keep it pushed forward.
“You don’t have to do that,” I said.
“I know how to mow!”
He pulled the rope and the mower roared to life. He leaned into it, preparing to push.
“I can show you an easier way!” I shouted.
“I got it!” he shouted back.
I reached over and flicked the lever to engage the mower, then nudged the handle forward. The mower lurched forward. He stumbled after it, surprised, then continued on his way.
I stood there, waiting for him to look over his shoulder so I could show off my I-told-you-so smile, but he didn’t even glance back.