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Making yard work positive for my son

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POSTED March 17, 2009 5:11 a.m.
Not too long ago, my mom opted to do away with her long-time landscaping services.

Her reasoning was that she had two able bodies living a mile or so away from her corner College View home in Stockton.

In this case, my mom was referring to her 13-year-old grandson, Josh, and his dad – yours truly.

Initially, I didn’t think it was a good decision on her part, especially since I had been down that familiar path.

My memories are hardly pleasant of the first go-around of doing yard work at her house. Back then, it was simply called chores.

During those days, my younger brother, Pete, helped out with the mowing and weeding of our old house. We also had to clean up the backyard mess left from our two family dogs not to mention the abundance of other debris left scattered by a household of four kids.

So our landscaping duties entailed more than just cutting the grass.

Looking back, we rarely took it upon ourselves to get the job done. It was mostly my mom’s nagging, “You need to cut the grass this weekend!”

Chores became even more challenging as we got older. Our priorities began to change, too.

For example, it was more important for me to take that invitation from friends to go to the movies or hang out at the mall rather than staying home on a weekend afternoon and doing yard work.

Later, my brother got stuck with outdoor work load as I found part-time employment at one of the neighborhood grocery stores. I was relieved.

Now, I’m back to handling the landscaping at my mom’s house. However, I’m also older, wiser, and a role model to my son by trying to set a positive example.

My mom actually asked us to take over her yard work duties some four months ago. But thanks to winter, our work there was minimal at best, needing some raking of pine needles left from her 75-foot front yard evergreen.

We were in the market for a lawn mower. In January, we actually tried to purchase one at a popular retailer only to hear the clerk say, “We’re sold out (of that particular model) – can you check back with us in a couple days?”

Needless to say, we never made it back to the store.

Meanwhile, I was concerned about my mom’s yard, with the pleasant weather of last month making for a lush landscape.

It was also about then I happened along a yard sale about a half-block from my home during a morning walk to the convenient store for my daily fix of newspapers and coffee.

The young man at the nearby rental placed several items of value in the front yard, including a classic Beatles LP, stereo equipment and other knick knacks.

But what really caught my eye was a used 22-inch (blade) lawn mower with a Briggs & Stratton engine equipped with the owner’s manual. Other than some rips to grass-catcher, the equipment looked to be in good shape.

But the mower was without a price tag.

In dealing with such matters, I found that it’s best to have a price in mind. In this case, I set the bar at no more than $50.

The young man was still hauling out yard-sale items from his backyard garage when I approached him, asking, “How much for the mower?”

He responded by saying, “Thirty-five dollars?”

From there, I hurried to my bank to withdraw a quick $40 from my ATM. I also made a quick trip to the store to break a $20 bill (I purchased a banana and an energy drink) before returning to the yard sale.

With the mower in hand, I did a quick maintenance check before giving it a test run on my own front yard. The equipment worked like a champ and I immediately knew that I came away with a great yard-sale deal.

Since the purchase, we’ve made sure that my mom’s front yard is kept nice and tidy by cutting the grass at least once a week.

I’m also taking plenty of pride in my work. This time around, I’m hoping to make yard work a positive experience for my son.
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