Project Advent, Day 4: Raking Mom's Leaves


I hadn't ever really stopped and thought about this, but during a conversation with a friend today, I realized that I may occasionally be guilty of presenting the most Christmas newsletter-ready version of my family in these pages.  For today's project, though, I had Jack with me.  Jack has a way of bringing the chaos along with him.  But I'm getting ahead of myself - first look at this picture of my kids being super-adorable before church this morning.  I'm thinking of putting it in our Christmas newsletter.

I just can't help it!

You've heard the old saying, charity begins at home.  I decided to take today's project home, and do something to help out my mom.  As you can imagine, these last few months have been pretty tough for her.  She's strong, funny, independent, loving, and wonderful.  These are the qualities that kept my dad in love with her for over forty years.  I wanted to do something today, even if it was a small thing, to help her out.  Blake was invited to a classmate's birthday party this afternoon, so while he was at that, I took Ava and Jack to my mom's house to rake her leaves.  Here is the unvarnished tale of how that went.

Chapter the First: In Which a Game is Proposed
We pulled up at my mom's house at 1:10.  She wasn't home, but that actually worked in our favor, because the kids could pay attention to the task at hand instead of trying to play with Grammy.  We headed into the backyard, and I started to rake leaves into piles as quickly as I could.  There are several big trees back there, so I wanted to clear as many leaves as we could before we had to leave to pick Blake back up.  I decided that the best way to get the little ones to work with me was to make it into a game.  Parenting!

"We're going to have a contest to see who can scoop the most leaves into a trash can!  I'll even give you a head start, because you can start scooping while I'm still raking!  Ready?  Go!"

"I'm such a smart dad," he thought, as he watched the children hop to the task.

Chapter the Second: In Which Loopholes are Discovered in the Game's Rules
I love Jack, I do.  Look how sweet he is, holding that big rake!  It's just that he is a much different person that I am, and a much different person than I am usually prepared to handle.  If there is one of my children who is going to find the fastest way to turn a situation left, it's him.  (Anybody up for a swim?)  So I should not have been surprised when the game went wrong.  Ava taunted, in the nanny boo boo cadence, "I have more lea-eaves!  In my-eye trash can!"  Jack put his head back, roared, and knocked her can over, spilling it.  "Now I have more!"

I convinced them that they were both still beating me, so nobody needed to knock over anybody else's can.

Chapter the Third: In Which I Really Should Have Seen This Coming
The leaves were all back in the trash cans.  Work was happening at a good pace.  We were going to finish the whole yard before going to pick Blake up.  The kids were even having fun, and I got some good pictures, and then my mom came home and snapped a good one of me with the kids.
Then it was time to empty the trash cans, stuffed so full of the results of our labors.  The kids were even excited to follow me to the dumpster, because they were able to wheel the trash cans through the gate.  And then Jack watched in horror as I lifted the first can and tipped its contents into the dumpster.
He stood between me and his can, spreading his arms to keep me from it.  "MY LEAVES!  NOT MY LEAVES, DADDY!"
"OK, well you can stay out here with your leaves.  Me and Ava are going to Sonic to get a drink."  Parenting!  And that's when he ran screaming back into the yard, little heart all in turmoil about his leaves going in the trash.

He survived, and fell asleep the moment he was buckled into his carseat, and I managed to make it through another day without selling him to gypsies.  Parenting!

Mom called tonight, and thanked us for the help.  It made me happy to have something that we could do for her.

Gratitude Project: It seems like a gimme to say this on the same day that I did something for my mom, but everything I am today is because of my parents.  I didn't have the perspective to see this when I was a kid, but they each brought such different and unique talents and styles to parenting, and I am now able to see parts of each of them in myself.  When I am able to strike up a conversation with a stranger and come away with a new friend, it's because I am Peggy Holwerda's son.  When I am able to make long-term plans and goals for my family, or to do an anonymous act of kindness for somebody, it's because Bob Holwerda is my father.  I love them, and I'm thankful for them.


Paula Moore said...

I love that you captured this story for eternity (or at least long enough for Jack to grow up and read it:)  I love the caption to the last picture! 

Academomia said...

I think Jack and Wes would be great friends.  Poor little guy!  This was a nice one!

Ali said...

Parenting! it will be the death of us all... ;)

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