The burden of helpful children

If you live among deciduous trees, you know dry leaves are much easier to clean up than wet leaves are. If you live with an 11-year-old, you know this is the sort of fact he must learn the hard way.

There are many, many things an 11-year-old has not learned yet. He has learned it’s not nearly as fun to help Dad with yard work as it seems like it should be. Hence, he doesn’t offer to help as much as he did when he was young and callow about such things.

Occasionally, Big Brother will be overcome with the nostalgic temptation to help out. If he were older and better disciplined, he might be strong enough to overcome this temptation. But he’s not older, so everyone will pay the price of his weakness.

During the prime season to clear leaves from our lawn, it rained, and rained some more. Then we got a snow storm. Most November snow melts within a day or two. This snow covered the ground for a week.

Even after the snow melted, the nights were cold, leaving a thick layer of frost on everything. If the sun warmed the day, this frost melted into another soaking for our lawn of leaves.

The back yard leaves, undisturbed by overzealous children, wait for the unlikely combination of dry weather and a weekend.

Saturday morning there was an ample frost. When I went out to clean the gutters and found the leaves collected there were frozen in place, I determined it was not the right time to mess around with the leaves on the ground. Big Brother didn’t get the memo.

While I found other chores, Big Brother came outside and decided it was his morning to be helpful. He grabbed a rake an made a pile of wet leaves on the front lawn.

When it gets to be late November, even thinly spread leaves need a little luck to dry. A pile of leaves is nature’s permanent wet sock. This was the wet sock Big Brother saddled us with, only it was in the middle of our front lawn, so we couldn’t let it be permanent.

There were two options: spread the leaves back out over the lawn like some ass-backward fools, or go ahead and bag the soggy mess. We chose to charge ahead, though I think Big Brother would have preferred a plan of action that involved going inside and letting the pile shift for itself.

It took a lot longer to clean up that pile than it should have, with those wet clumps clogging up my leaf vacuum every 30 seconds or so, but it gave me a good chance to teach Big Brother a few lessons. Aside from the difference between wet leaves and dry leaves, he learned that when you start a job, you don’t leave it half done because it’s taking longer than you expected.

Probably, the lesson he took nearest to heart was to put up a better fight against that rare and unexplainable impulse to make himself helpful to Dad.

13 comments on “The burden of helpful children

  1. GoofyEd says:

    And in the Spring, leaves are not just wet…they are matted into clumps that would even bog down the vacuum of a sewer sucker. As stressful as Big Brother made the chore, ya done good, Scott.

  2. thegsandwich says:

    Hey listen, the kid still wants to help. This will end when he’s 13 – I promise. As for the leaves, after blowing them for a month, I hired my lawn guy to eradicate them in an hour. Another lesson learned.

  3. CrankyPants says:

    Bahaha! You’re such a good father!

  4. Saniyyah Eman says:

    Ah. I was a good kid then, because I was such a lazy thing. Just lying curled up in places, reading. 😛

  5. AmyRose🌹 says:

    Er, appreciate the help now that you do have it, Scott, for there comes a day, and sooner then you think, that you will have a surly, sulky teenager to contend with who when asked to do anything, will make such a stink you won’t know how to endure said stink. Gratitude works wonders. And applause for the attempt at using the leaf thingie. I would have done it by hand. Just saying ….. LOL

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