No Gobbling up PacMan by child grower Annita Woz

jennysjellystonegreentoesWhen I go outside it smells like dirt, and mud, and worms.

The sun is shining. The birds are waking me up chit-chattering in the early hours. The bootcamp style workout fad has hit the moms in my suburb inspired them to get up at 5:30 and run and do push ups and act like it was fun.

But I knew the glorious weather of spring was all over when I looked out my kitchen window, and saw a neighbor mowing the lawn on the riding mower. Ugh.

I visibly sneer at her, could it really be time to cut the grass?

This is the start of keeping the dandelions down, the weekly, sometimes twice a week,  circling, circling smaller, mower and owner together,  tackling the grass.

We master those green blades for a few days at a time, carve out soccer fields and kickball areas, make paths to the bonfire pit and keep the nasty weeds away from the sidewalks and the front porch.

My husband loves to mow.  He finds it therapeutic, a good time to rehash ideas, brainstorm on problems, think about nothing at all sometimes except the drone of the mower and the smell of that grass spewing out of the chute.

We don’t rake, we don’t bag, we don’t collect the clippings. We let them sit and sometimes we joke about baling them, like Grandpa did on the hayfields- but of course, this is no farm. Long grass just happens sometimes here, it is just a neglected lawn, overlooked for other adventures like camping or skipped in order to go swimming many days in a row. We cannot call it switchgrass or turn it into energy to heat our bath water, but it sure takes up a lot of our energy.

I know moms who have mowed while kids are sleeping in the house, who have put babies in front packs or backpacks and followed behind the gasoline engines that sputter and cut nice lines into the yard, just like it should. 

I know dads who have mowed as a workout, who have mowed paths around yards for dogs and children to follow and I know a couple who mow their yards together, each on a machine, like a game of Pacman chasing each other and cutting the grass like some arcade game gone live. 

Letting the ghost catch them is not part of the plan.  But it happens.

Getting a ride on a machine that cuts the grass is a gift, a fun game, like a ride, but one that doesn’t need a three dollar ticket.

The traditional ride around the lawn before the work begins is great fun. Who can resist a ride ont he big machine with dad’s arm around your middle, getting the best view of the growing clover?

Then, one fine day, the little kid runs out on the lawn and chases mom on the rider, waving and yelling, asking for a ride.  Or maybe it is just to get the attention of the grown up,  who cannot hear them,  just to ask for a little help, “Can you get my frisbee off the roof?”

And then, mom turns sharply, or backs up, and the ghost gets the little pac man, and gobbles him up.  

Every year I see the confusion on my friends and neighbors faces when mine say, “no thanks” to the obligatory chug around the fence line.  It isn’t that we don’t trust other parents. It isn’t that we are the type of no-fun- kind of people that hate parenting or joyful freedom. 

But then, I have to admit,  mine aren’t allowed a ride on the back of a four wheeler unless they have a helmet, and then I get those looks like I am an overprotective nut job-well, that’s another story.

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