Like many parents, I’ve always had trouble getting my adolescent son to do work around the house. I’m really big on my yard and all the outdoor work that comes with it. I do a lot of gardening, a lot of shoveling, and even more trimming and loading. For years, it was nearly impossible to get my son to help with any of this, and I finally stopped asking for any assistance at all.
A couple years ago, the family up and moved to Colorado. And not just any part of Colorado … the Rocky Mountains. We found a nice house with a great yard in a small community called Evergreen, about 25 miles west of Denver in the foothills of the Rockies. To our surprise, the house came with a little bonus: A big wooden shed on the property containing an old ATV and a bunch of accessories to go along with it.
After arriving in late November, we found ourselves settled right in time for the winter’s first big snowstorm. And boy, did it ever come down. After three days of constant blizzard conditions and over five total feet of snow, we found ourselves trapped behind 200 yards of snow-packed driveway. The thought of attempting to shovel that huge area was overwhelming, until I recalled seeing a snow plow fitting for the old ATV in the shed. Hoping this might do the trick, I tracked out to the shed to see if I could put it together.
With a couple calls to the manufacturer of the ATV (Kawasaki), and the manufacturer of the snow plow (WARN), I was set up and ready to go. Curiously, I only made it to the edge of the garage before my teenage son was running at me with wide eyes and a never-before-seen look of interest in household chores. Amazingly, the kid begged me to shovel the driveway, a task he had always faked a cold to get out of.
In just two hours, the ATV had plowed the entire 200 yards of driveway, and my son ran in as excited as if he had just spent the time on his snowboard. For the remainder of the winter season, his eyes lit up each and every time the snow fell, and we never spent more than a couple hours snowed in. During those great hours, my wife and I would simply warm up a pot of hot cocoa and watch the amazing transformation taking place from the warmth of the house.
When spring came around and it was time to get started on my tree trimming and garden duties, I found a similar interest in these outdoor chores. I would trim the branches, and my son would load them into the ATV plow and transport them to the edge of the property. He then spent a week straight digging up dirt and proportioning areas of land for my grand gardening plans. In a fraction of the time it had taken in previous years, I had a great garden, thanks mostly to the help of my son and his new favorite toy.
In the past two years, I haven’t shoveled a bit of snow in the winter. For the past two summers, I haven’t put a bit of work into my garden. Yet I still have the best looking yard and garden on the block, and my son did it all with an old ATV and utility plow. And anytime the neighbors come to ask me how I got my son to be so helpful around the yard, I simply point at that old ATV and say “Get one of those and you’ll see for yourself.”
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