Rites of Passage ~The Lawnmower and the Kid


Life isn’t always fair, but there are advantages if you look at it from the proper perspective


The moment of truth
The moment of truth

In our home, as a rite of passage, when a kid turns 13 (or is tall enough to see over the handle of the lawnmower), he or she inherits the job of cutting the grass (with pay). Realizing that we were dealing with a young female, the task of making the job seem more glamorous than it really was, or at least a “sought after” privilege, seemed the best idea at the time. And since we grown-ups know what it’s really like, you can see the point of applying extra icing on the cake.

Morgan is the oldest. When she turned 13, she was offered the job. Realizing her youth, we recognized that we’d have to use persuasive words such as, “clothes”, “candy”, and “eye shadow” as an incentive to get her motor running (no pun intended). If we got desperate we could use phrases like, “payment on demand” and “cash flow.” In any event, I was surprised at how easy it was! She was thrilled, being first in line for the throne, which fitted right into the plan. We felt it best to avoid words like “hot”, “long” or “sweaty.” Adjectives are just not as kind as nouns and verbs.

The BIG DAY came. She started out at a quick pace, zipping back and forth, back and forth.

 She came in for the first round of lemonade. So far, so good. She’s happy. She’s optimistic. She’s thinking about that ten spot. The second round, however, she came in with a puzzled look on her face. Oh great. She’s on to something.

What to do? So, I appealed to her feminine creativity. I reminded her that she could do it however she wanted to, just as long as it gets done.

“If you get bored, make designs in the grass!” I said. “Then go back and fill in the blank areas!”

“Well, I guess so Mom”, she sighed.

I can tell she’s not convinced, but being the obedient kid that she is, she dutifully went back to work. Third round, here she comes again. It’s too soon to be back inside. Now I’m panicked!

“What’s wrong?” I asked, putting my face into neutral.

“Mom?….well…not to be disrespectful or anything but…”, she trailed off.

Rebuilding her courage, she started again. “Mom, can I ask you something?


“Well, do you remember the boy who cut our grass last summer?”

“Uh, yeah. John.”

 “I was just wondering…well… I really want to know…


Oh, geez! I had to think quickly; examine my motives. After a short pause, I said, “Because we weren’t trying to build his character, but we are trying to build yours.”

She finished the job.

She’s a lot older now and to this day is a shining example of someone who has learned that in order to be a leader, you have to be willing to work for the other guy. And sometimes the “other guy” isn’t fair. But if you persist in doing what’s right, humbling yourself under those in charge over you (who got where they are because they know what they’re doing), then maybe that guy will promote you. And, as we grown-ups have learned, if you are willing to start from the bottom and work your way to the top, then when you’re put in charge over other people, you’ll have an advantage:

You’ll have patience, insight, knowledge and respect.

I think that’s worth ten bucks.


Morgan is grown up now with a successful business she runs from her home. She’s the married mother of three beautiful children. I always admired her ability to talk straight and ask the important questions, all the while brightening up the room with her enthusiasm and caring.  She made her first business pitch in the front yard at 13, and I have stood in awe of her ever since.

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