No Satisfaction

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.


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