Yard work and letting go.
My son turned 13 years old last fall.
When he asked to help clean the yard of fallen leaves I handed him a rake and encouraged him to get to work. I don’t think it was what he had in mind as I continued to use the gas powered leaf blower all around him. He quickly lost interest in helping and I too gave up after a couple of hours.
The remaining leaves lay dormant and decomposing through winter until I finally hired an older neighborhood kid to finish the job.
As the weather broke for the spring I spread fertilizer and even some grass seed to keep the lawn looking as green as possible until the first summer drought when I secretly celebrate the brownish lawn that requires little maintenance.
The fertilizer and seed took hold in conjunction with April showers and my lawn was ready for the first mowing of the year. My son again expressed interest in yardwork as he eyed the gas powered mower in the corner of the garage. I was fearful of toe amputations yet realized that the boy in front of me was growing into a young man. I relented and pulled out the mower from the garage.
He is strong enough to push, but not yet able to pull start the mower by himself. The adolescence of his abilities make it easier for me to walk beside him ensuring safety and relatively straight lines.
The most important advice I gave him was that if you sense any danger with the lawnmower tipping over or getting clogged simply let go of the handle and the engine will stop. Such simple advice can save man and machine. Even as the words left my mouth the symbolism was immediately apparent.
I let go of my fear that he was not old enough to safely operate machinery.
I let go of the thought of him as a young boy incapable of bigger and better things.
I let go of having a perfectly manicured lawn with straight mower lines.