My son got his first "paid" lawn mowing job on Friday. Thursday night, one of our older neighbors stopped by to see if he would mow his 1/2 acre yard for the price of $5.00. My son agreed to it, and they sealed the deal with a handshake. I use the term "yard" quite loosely here. I'm talking about lots of pine trees with clumps of native grasses, weeds, and oak tree seedlings.....and a whole lot of dirt. At eight, he's still a little young for big mowing jobs, but he was willing, and it seemed like a great learning opportunity at the time.
My son woke up bright and early on Friday to get the push mower out of the shed. He wanted to be prepared and prompt for his first real job. I put in a half a gallon of gas, and we pushed it down the road to the job site. Because he's young, and because I wanted to make sure that he did a thorough job, I decided to stay and supervise. I started up the mower and he began his trek across the yard, weaving in and out of trees, around stumps, and over all of the weeds. The majority of the "yard" was a fine dirt that made a giant dust cloud that followed my poor baby boy wherever he went. I could tell he was trying to cope with it. First I could see him trying to hold his breath through the bad parts, and then he tried to push the mower faster to out run the cloud but it always caught up with him. We couldn't avoid it. The older gentlemen also spreads his fireplace ashes on the snow in the winter. Whenever the mower would go over those spots, the soot would fly everywhere and my boy would give me the "you've got to be kidding me" look. I did my best to spur him on. I even helped him to mow a few rough spots that slanted into a ditch. We were both coughing, rubbing our eyes, and trying not to breathe. After 45 grueling minutes, we were finally done. He was exhausted, and pushed the mower back down the road to our house. An hour earlier we were freshly cleaned for the morning....now we were covered in a thick layer of brown dirt, and black soot. When we smiled, our teeth had a clean white luster while everything else looked filthy. My son said, "Mom, that was a LOT of work for five dollars!" And for the first time ever, he asked me if he could please go take a shower. I couldn't help but laugh at that point.
After using $1.50 in gas, and giving 50 cents in the offering plate on Sunday, I figure my boy netted a whopping $3.00 for that mowing job. If you count the fact that it really took two of us to complete the job, then the price seems even more pathetic for that heinous task. That man got a real bargain, let me tell you! But the lessons learned about diligence and getting the job done, and about how hard you must work for a buck were .....PRICELESS. I think my boy may have learned one other lesson too.....negotiating for higher wages the next time around.