Another boy, another John Deere tractor. I pulled into grandma and grandpa's driveway last week and Ian spotted the mower that had awakened from a long winter's slumber and was getting itself prepared for the first spring mow. It was a mow Ian had every intention of being a part of. From the driveway to the house, Ian shouted "tractee, tractee." Once in the house, Ian shouted "tractee, tractee." He stood by the kitchen window that provided a view of the mower and chanted "tractee, tractee, tractee," until grandpa lifted him high enough up the glass where he could see his obsession.
When I left there for work, Ian was still talking about nothing but the tractee. When I returned to pick him up that evening, he was motoring around the yard on the mower. It wasn't immediately clear who was driving, Ian or Grandpa, but Ian's smile was evidence that he sure thought he was, so identifying the actual driver became irrelevant.
There is something about grandpas introducing their grandchildren to mowers. It is a rite of passage of sorts. While Ian and I were driving home that night, I couldn't help but recall some of my early mower experiences. I can remember my grandpa Cartwright pulling a wagon load of grandchildren around the yard with his mower. At that age it might as well have been a roller coaster with all the happy screams and hands raised in the air. All at speeds approaching 3 miles per hour.
Then there was the first time I was turned loose on a mower, not sitting on a lap, but actually driving solo. I must have been about 8 or 9 years old. I had a three generation audience: my dad, my grandpa and my great-grandpa. I was several minutes into the journey when I was attacked by fighter jets. They were diving out of the sky from all directions. Some buzzing my head, others swooping in front of me and behind me. All high level military strategy I'm sure.
I looked around for my reinforcements. I was certain that my audience would now be armed and firing away at the incoming with large weapons of mass destruction. But they weren't . They were standing by watching the attack fully engaged in laughter.
I decided to ditch my ride and head for the hills. When I did, the assailants flew away. I found immediate calm in the cease-fire and turned my attention to my ground units who were all now nearly doubled over by whatever humor they found in the situation.
"I've just been attacked by foreign invaders. What on earth is so funny?"
Turns out the foreign invaders were not so foreign after all. They were barn swallows from just across the street. Hungry birds diving after the insects stirred up by the whirling blades of the mower. They sure looked like fighter jets to an 8 year-old.
Speaking of military operations.
I was just outside the kitchen the other day watching Elliott down on his knees with his finger poking at Ian.
"Now tell me the truth, Ian, did you poop?" asked Elliott. It was an interrogation one level short of water-boarding.
Ian didn't reply and Elliott wasn't happy. Before things got out of hand I made my appearance known. "What's going on?" I asked.
"Will you make Ian tell me if he pooped, daddy?" begged Elliott. Now, I knew what was going on here. We've been working with Elliott lately on being truthful. He's endured his fair share of similar interrogations. Like, "Was that loud slapping sound your hand against Ian's head, Elliott?" Or, "Does Ian's sprawled position on the floor have anything to do with you running over him at a hundred miles per hour, Elliott?" Since I knew what he was up to, I felt uncomfortable bringing a halt to operation 'discover the truth', but maybe there was an easier way.
"Come on, Elliott, we'll get to the bottom of this." I picked Ian up and carried him back to the diaper changing area, and I assure you, we got to the truth. And as unpleasant as the truth smelled, it brought a big, knowing smile to Elliott's face.
Check out the video below and you'll discover that many things bring a smile to Elliott's face these days.