The Art of the Cut

“That’s a mower, not a vacuum,” I said to my son, raising my voice enough for him to hear me over the hum of the push mower.
He glanced up with a confused look on his face. I had made two laps cutting in the pattern on the side yard. My direction had been simple, repeat the pattern. Instead he had decided to take a couple steps forward and then pull the mower back a couple steps back, repeating some sort of mowing two-step I had never been witness to before. Worse yet, without a pattern there would be no way for him to see where he had been in the dry July grass.
How is it that a 14 year old could make it this far in life and not know the basic tenants of mowing? It was a question that had troubled me for some time, so much so that I had tried to find the cause of the deficiency.
At first I blamed his parents, namely my wife and I. As a toddler we never purchased him a little plastic mower, the most basic building block for future mowing success. Many of our early behaviors are learned by mimicking our parents. My wife assured me that she knew plenty of kids that didn’t have toy mowers, who had progressed just fine into actual lawn mowing, noting that her younger brother now owned a lawn care service even though he never had the toddler test runs.
Maybe I couldn’t pin the deficit solely on lack of preadolescence development, but there had to be a root cause, I continued to look for the answer.
One afternoon I happened by my parents’ house and observed my father mowing, no pattern what so ever, I was sickened. Maybe the ability to mow skipped every other generation? Unfortunately I couldn’t prove or disprove this theory. My grandfathers have long passed and unfortunately no one remembers the style with which they mowed. It will be some time before my son has a child and even longer before said child takes up mowing. Mental note: get her a toy mower, preferably one that makes bubbles.
Lacking the data necessary to prove my skip gene theory I sought out another hypothesis by watching the mowing behaviors of people around town, I apologize if it made any of you uncomfortable. My findings were inconclusive. Most of the people I observed appeared to be my age or older and mowed with some sort of a pattern. Some were banking an outward pattern, while others turned to the right, blowing the clippings towards the center for easy removal. A few used my favorite style, repeating stripes back and forth, creating contrasting lines in the grounds green tapestry. Unfortunately a handful mowed erratically, with no discernible form, much like my son. It was all I could do to not stop and give pointers.
My study was at an impasse. It appeared that mowing was not a learned behavior nor genetic, the true source of the skill may never be known.
Discouraged by his lack of style, I left my son to finish the side yard realizing that the weed eater would be needed for cleanup when he was done. As I walked towards the garage the college kid next door caught my eye as he back peddled across the yard. My head dropped as I sighed, it seems that one thing is pretty clear; the art of the cut is definitely lost on the younger generation.


2 thoughts on “The Art of the Cut

  1. My stepson does the same thing. I think he does it on purpose. He knows if I’m not happy with it then I will just do it myself. He is a lot smarter than I give him credit for…..


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