Jameson is 6. Maxwell is 16 months. Regardless of their age difference, they are both currently enthralled by the machinery lawn care and landscaping companies employ.
“What’s that noise?” Jay will say if he hears even the faintest buzz of a blower. Max’s eyebrows will shoot up and his lips will form a perfect little “o” as he responds, “blower!” We can be in the living room, in the basement, on the porch, on the back deck, or getting in the car and the two will have the same reaction.
When my husband mows the lawn or dons the backpack blower, they like to watch from the front porch. Of course, as mom, I am also involved in this exciting (sarcasm!) pastime. I block the precarious cement stairs by sitting with my back resting along the side of the house, my legs outstretched and feet touching the start of the porch railing. I’m a human baby gate for 30-45 minutes.
The noise of mowers, blowers, and trimmers can cause Jay to lash out or snuggle next to me. Sometimes he wears noise cancelling headphones. Other times he covers his ears with his hands.
Jay’s listening skills seem to vanish when he gets overstimulated and it can be a struggle to redirect him. Noise can be a big trigger. I try to be patient and calm, but I’ve got to be honest, sometimes I lose my sh*&. I’m not proud of it. In certain moments I feel overstimulated myself, and before I can rein it in I find I am yelling. The occasional frustration bomb rockets out of my mouth. And the more upset I get, the more upset Jay gets.
There’s always a point where we just look at each other in silence. His cheeks are flushed, his bottom lip is curled under, his eyes are red from where his hands seem to constantly rub at them in moments of frustration, and snot is trickling from his nostrils.
“Let’s take a deep breath,” I say to him as much to myself. “Okay, another, and another, and another.”
Meanwhile, Maxwell is watching. He’s seeing his big brother struggle to communicate his needs and manage his emotions. He’s seeing his mom experience a range of feelings in just a few minutes; increasing agitation, frustration, guilt, and reconciliation. What does he think? How do those experiences make him feel?
When Dad’s finally done mowing, trimming, and blowing, I let the kids take the three steps down the front porch and run to the front of the garage to inspect the machines.
“All done?” Jay will ask.
“Done?” Max echoes.
When lawn care crews come by to work on some of our neighbor’s houses, the boys like to watch them as well. We have a long driveway along the side of our house and they can watch big riding mowers make their way down and back. Jay knows some of the workers by name and likes to talk to them about their machines. I am grateful for their patience and willingness to give him a high five or “Hey man!” when they see him with his grin from ear to ear, waving a hand as he’s yelling “Hi guys!”
Sometimes, Ben will get out the small battery-powered blower and let each kid give it a go in turn.
They like to play pretend on the deck with a 3-year old Buzz Lightyear water squirt gun-type backpack and a toy mower. The buzz lightyear back is their leaf blower. Max and Jay both make adorable, “MmmmmvvvMmmmvvv” sounds while blowing off all corners of the deck, under the chairs, and behind the sandbox. They use the toy mower, too. They check underneath to “fix it” as needed, pull the power cord, and turn the key. I think it is safe to say that these two toys are their go-to for outdoor play.
At night, one of Jay’s favorite things to do right now is talk through “dreams;” where I tell him silly stories with him as a main character. His favorite revolves around him as a big guy. He owns his own truck with a trailer loaded with mowers and trimmers and blowers and he goes to people’s houses to do their lawns. He wears ear protection headphones (noise cancelling) and eye protection glasses. He packs a lunch, usually meat, cheese and pretzels, and has a water bottle full of pink lemonade. He listens to music in the truck as he drives from house to house. In the evening, he parks his truck and trailer in the garage of his own home. He has chicken and french fries for dinner. He takes a shower and watches mowers and blowers on the TV for a little while (both he and Max are fans of Ivan the Inspector and Blippi mowing/leaf blowing related YouTube clips) and then goes to bed. When he gets up in the morning, he has a donut and a smoothie before packing his lunch and getting back in his truck to go mow, trim, and blow for another homeowner. In the dream, sometimes he works solo and other times he’s got his brother Max working with him. I guess it depends on the size of the job!
If you dream it, boys, you can make anything into reality <3