In a break with tradition, this post is more verbose than most...but I wanted to write the whole story down, in case I want to refer back to an example of successfully convincing my son of something he was dead set against.
I wrote previously how Lukas loves fixing sprinklers, but was resistant to the idea of buying a lawnmower and starting a lawn mowing business...well, this is the continuing saga. Tom and I have been gently encouraging him on several fronts (and you have been, too, right?) At one point Lukas didn't want to be paid for fixing the sprinklers of our neighbor, "because it's just too much fun to be work." Tom told him that when he finds a job that is fun, he's found the perfect job! So Lukas and Tom plotted to make a flier that Lukas would hand out in the neighborhood, offering to replace sprinkler heads for people, for $1 each.
The next day Lukas came back from riding his bike around "the block" (an area of our neighborhood that is connected), and announced that there are 70 houses in our neighborhood, and he could make 35 copies of a flier, cut it in half and have enough to paper the whole neighborhood with his business. I took this opportunity to try to make him think logically about his business: "Lukas, of those 70 houses, how many do you think need a sprinkler changed?" Lukas thought for a bit and said, "Probably not very many." I said, "Maybe three or four? And once you change a few sprinklers at their yards, how often are they going to need your services?" "Not very often." I said, "I hope not very often, because you will do a good job of changing the sprinklers, and you will install a quality product that will last. So now think how many of those 70 homes don't have a regular gardener, but still need their lawn mowed?" He thought and said, "Maybe 10 or 20." "Yes, and how often will they need their lawn mowed?" "Every week or two, but I don't want to be a gardener." "I don't want you to be a gardener when you're 25, but as a 9-year-old, mowing lawns is a pretty great job. I wish I had the chance to earn money like this when I was 9!"
So the lights were going off in his brain, but he said, "But Dad said if I find a job I really like doing, that's good. I like fixing sprinklers." I replied, "Yes, it's very good, but if you are mowing people's lawns, you will also be able to see when there is a broken sprinkler, and then ask them if you can fix their sprinkler." Then we did a little math and figured out he might make $1,000 in one year on mowing lawns, but maybe only $20 or $30 a year on fixing sprinklers.
Since I had his attention, I said, "Let's check Craig's List to see what kind of lawnmowers we could find for less than $100." I had no intention of actually buying one right there, but I thought it was part of the continuing, gentle nudging. So we looked at a few, then he said he wanted a front-throwing lawnmower, so I found one for $95. It actually sounded like a great lawnmower (older man was selling his lawnmower so a young man could mow his lawn for money...how ironic!), so Lukas called Tom at work to talk about it, Tom called the man, and Tom was certain he wanted Lukas to have that lawnmower. So they went over to the house and Lukas asked him how much he wanted for it, and he said, $75!
It's really a fabulous lawnmower, probably worth $150. That's what I call providential!
So Lukas is practicing mowing our yard a few times before advertising his business. And he does like it...maybe not as much as fixing sprinklers, but he said it was fun. Tom also got an edger from the man, but it will be a few years before Lukas will be operating that machine...Tom will edge the lawns for Lukas and Lukas can sweep up.
This week I sent the last check to our gardener (who mows and blows the front yard) with a note that we've been happy with his services, but we're hiring our son from here on out.
I'm so proud!