It’s always fun to watch the reactions from the kids when informed I need their help around the house or out in the yard.
Carson, 10, will immediately drop whatever he is doing to lend a hand. No matter what I’m asking him to do, he always initially reacts by making a muscle with his bicep. He loves moving heavy things and being involved with a job. He helps me each Sunday morning take the recycling to the Berlin center and is always game to take the trash out.
Carson’s favorite task of late is cutting branches with clippers. He even has a certain pruner he likes the best because its adjustable in length. A large pile of accumulated tree branches from a recent storm gave him the perfect opportunity to put his skills to the test. Once the job is explained, Carson prefers to work independently, encouraging me to let him do his thing. Carson does not talk but he can clearly communicate his desires, especially to us as we know him so well.
Though Carson is always willing to help, Beckett, 11, huffs and puffs over the thought of it. He has said in the past it’s not that he isn’t willing to help, it’s that he doesn’t like to be blindsided. Therefore, I told the boys the night before I had some work I could use their help with the next day. If they helped, a full day of yard work would turn into a half day. The deep breathes from the oldest child of the house eased when I let him know a chain saw was involved.
When it came time to get the job done, it was mid-day. The “pre-teen” of the house needed to sleep in after a week of getting up moderately early for home school. When 11 a.m. rolled around, I had done all the prep work I could do. It was time to get some work done.
As expected, there were frustrations along the way. Carson had helped me with jobs like this before. He knew exactly what to do. His only brushes with trouble have to do with his sloppy work. For instance, he had a handful of 15-foot limbs he was cutting up. He did a great job with it, but instead of piling them up they were spread out over a large portion of the yard. When I asked him to bring them to me so we could load them, he acted like it was a huge deal. Therefore, I stopped what I was doing and helped him accumulate his branches. I had told him before if the limbs were too big to cut to leave them for the chain saw.
I never should have mentioned the chain saw because Beckett was fixated on it from the start. He was rationalizing how it seemed odd to be using the pruners when everything could just be cut up with the chain saw. The questions about the chain saw were endless. I purposely did not have it with me. I wanted them to work a bit on reducing the tree branch pile before I brought it out.
Once it was time, the boys’ reactions were varied. Beckett threw the clippers aside (still haven’t located those yet), while Carson kept on with his work. Beckett was eager and Carson had no interest, making a muscle instead. In his nonverbal way, Carson was clearly saying why use a chain saw when I got these right here, showing off his strength.
On the opposite extreme was Beckett, who once he saw the chain saw was amped and ready. I began to show him how to use it and went through a few safety instructions. He had evidently done some online research about chain saws and was an expert at this point. We practiced on a couple small limbs and he was startled by how much it shook and how much energy it took to keep the chain saw cutting through the wood. He thought it would be easy.
After some practice and learning how it worked, Beckett quickly picked it up and did a nice job working through the larger limbs. It was a bit nerve wracking as a parent, but my thoughts were more about how I was glad his mom wasn’t around. There were a few moments when I wondered if she was watching from the house. I was sure my phone nearby was going to be full of missed calls and messages.
When the end of the work was in sight, Beckett reminded me of something I had forgotten. He wanted me to video him a few times using the chain saw. It was interesting to be his video guy for this. He had a plan. We shot four videos. For someone who doesn’t love to get his pictured taken, he was all good with being videoed with a chain saw in his hand. He had a plan I would later learn involved TikTok, a video sharing app with a lot of functionality kids enjoy these days.
It turns out he’s now an expert on how to video well. He was critical of how I was taking the video of him with the chain saw. I evidently was wrong to keep the phone perfectly upright. There needed to be some art to it with a tilted camera angle of some sort. The tilt allowed for some creative editing and adding of text through the TikTok app evidently.
Later I texted the video to Beckett and his mom. He was thrilled to finally have the video so he could share it. Pam did not enjoy it as much, especially the part where he held the chain saw over his head in manic fashion. For me, I was glad to have a memory from week eight of quarantine. Not that I am counting or anything.