My lawn is beginning to look shaggy. I have yet to drag the mower out and give it its first run of the season, but if I don’t do it soon, the comments from the neighbors will begin.
They may start by talking about their own lawn, getting you to take a look at how well manicured they keep it. This is how they get you to notice that your lawn sucks by comparison. Soon, you start to feel inadequate and cut yours too. I’ve even seen this technique inspire one to fertilize and weed to keep dandelions from spreading to the concerned neighbor’s lawn.
If this doesn’t work, they break out the half-joking, half-serious comments to make a point until they realize they’ve upset you. Then it becomes, “I was only joking.” Suddenly they’re acting like your drinking buddy who was just busting your balls, telling you you’re taking things too seriously. As you try to remember how many times you’ve hung out socially with the guy, you realize the answer is none because he’s always rubbed you the wrong way. This is why you never cared how nice his lawn looks. However, this technique might still get you to cut your grass just to shut him up.
But…if the owner of the jungle-like lawn in question really doesn’t care how nice the neighbor’s lawn looks in comparison and really doesn’t give a rat’s ass if he was serious or joking when he made that comment, then none of these techniques will have any effect upon one’s motivation to conduct landscaping maintenance. Enter, me.
I don’t hold my neighbors in disdain. I’m not a bad neighbor. I’m a down right neighborly neighbor, in fact. Lawn trimming, however, is just one of those things that I do not feel societal pressure over. I bought the minivan, I shop at Target, I pay my taxes, I wait in line without cutting and don’t send my food back when I don’t like it, I just eat it. In short, I’ve conformed. When it comes to my grass, though, nothing but internal motivation is going to get it cut. I need to have trouble finding the dog crap, lose the bright yellow foam practice golf ball I just dinged off the garage, have my wife tell me I can’t have people over for a barbeque until it gets cut or get just plain sick of looking at the sheer length of it in order to get the mower out and start it up.
Is it getting close to that point? Yes, but it’s not quite there yet. Each time I stare at my lawn and think, “Damn that’s getting long,” I end up finding something higher on my priority list to do. My sons’ baseball practices, writing this blog and taking a nap are just a few such things.
The other day, I began to wonder to myself when my oldest son can be trusted with such a task. Certainly, this summer is too soon. Next year probably is as well. But as he comes closer to the double-digit age range, I’m thinking he might be in play to take over lawn care responsibilities from his old man. Ten is an age where he will still have interest in pushing around a machine that makes a lot of noise but will be careful enough with it not to lose any toes. It’s important to strike in that window of opportunity to meet with as little resistance as possible. But, if I can find a way to attach the lawn mower to his old big wheel, perhaps he can start a few years early.
Once I can get the boys mowing the lawn, when a neighbor comments on the length of my grass, I can turn it into a discussion of how busy my son is with the many activities he’s involved with. Then come the details about his performance in said activities.
That’s when they cut the conversation shorter than the blades of grass on their lawn because they realized they had something they forgot to do. Nothing gets a neighbor in their house, minding their own business, faster than bragging about your kids in painful detail.