The best laughs are the ones that you have when you’re not supposed to be laughing. You know, like the funeral where someone does an interpretive dance involving a hula hoop.
And the best time to play is when there’s something else you need to be doing. So you tell yourself that the thing that needs to be done, as important as it may be, can wait. Sometimes this backfires. Like back in college when you skipped class every day to hang out at Fast Willie’s Billiards and Brews.
But then there are those times when delaying the important for a few laughs can really pay off.
To say that my yard was out of control would be an understatement. Hollywood producers who were working on a remake of Apocalypse Now had already asked for my permission to use my front yard for a few jungle scenes. We’re still in negotiations.
Friday was my day to cut the grass. All week long I told myself that if I could just make it to the end of the week without my neighbors picketing or a pink slip on my door from the county code enforcers, I would be okay. Friday came and there were no pink slips from the county. And no protestors.
Well, there was one protestor.
My son sat quietly and patiently outside. He wanted me to play with him. I told him something about Apocalypse Now and needing to cut the grass. He just stared at me. I cut the grass.
But he didn’t go anywhere. He stayed outside. Quietly. Waiting.
His question was the same every time I walked by or turned the lawnmower off.
“Are you done? Will you play with me now?”
I thought about all of the time I spent waiting for someone to play with when I was a kid. I thought about when I eventually quit waiting and just started playing alone. I was probably the best kid in the world at throwing a football to myself. My kids need to learn how to entertain themselves and they certainly don’t need helicopter parents but I don’t want them to be as good as I was at one man football.
I turned the lawnmower off again. But this time it stayed off for a little longer. The job was only halfway done but it could wait. My son had waited long enough.
It was time for him to play with his dad.
Eventually my grass got cut that day. And pretty soon it will need to be cut again. It’s the job that never ends. Sort of like shaping boys into men. It’s a job that requires walking away from the important things that can wait so that you can do the really important things that have waited long enough.
That was the most fun I’ve had playing in a long time. I guess because I was supposed to be working. But looking back, I never really quit working. I just changed jobs. I like to think of it as a promotion.
I’m sure that when he is grown, my son will have memories of watching his dad cut the grass. But I hope that he also remembers the times when I didn’t finish the job. The times when I turned the lawnmower off halfway through because I had something more important to do.