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Life Is A Lawnmower

School Nurse Version

Every generation learns from the mistakes of the earlier generation and life for our children gets better and better each generation forward as they learn not to do things that cause pain and emotional discomfort. Yeah! Right! In a perfect world. Life is a Lawnmower.

Why do our children do the same, stupid things we did when we were kids?

We shout with all our might, “No! Don’t do it!” And they do it anyway. “Don’t step in that!” Then, “squish!” “Don’t touch that!” Then, “burn!” “Don’t eat that!” Then, “hospital!” We tell them that the outcome of their decision WILL involve pain and suffering. Do you know what’s sad? Sometimes the children do what we tell them not to do BECAUSE we are doing what we are telling our children not to do.

I am a school nurse and have noticed one thing that is almost universal: chubby kids have chubby parents (in general). No, now please don’t think I am poking fun. No way! I am simply reporting a finding that seems to be common place. The parents will know…first hand…the stress of living in an out-of-shape, overweight body and pray that their “little bundle” will not have to suffer the same. Parenting (nor school-nursing) should not be “do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do.” If you, the parent, don’t put down that Twinkie or doughnut then how can you expect your child to?

A little girl in my office says, “Nurse Kevin, my mommy and daddy smoke.”

I asked her, “Are you going to smoke one day?”

The child paused and looked up as if taking a moment to contemplate, “Maybe not.”

“Maybe not?!” What kind of answer is that? In 2017, cigarettes and smokeless tobacco companies spent about $1 million every hour to convince little people like this girl in my office that she should smoke. But NOTHING is more powerful than a smoking mamma or a smoking daddy to convince a young child to pick up the habit that WILL (no doubt) cause the child to DIE sooner than otherwise. And these same parents would declare, “I’d do anything for my kids!” Would you? For real?

My daughter, a woman of 27 and now with children of her own, has told me why she took directions in her life despite my warnings. “Daddy, sometimes I just have to experience things for myself.” To be honest, this makes a lot of sense. How will the child know what hot is if he or she never feels “hot” for themselves? Learning “hot” is a good thing. But consider this, is being consumed by the fire good to “experience?” (Sorry Daughter)

This same daughter calls one day and asks, “My tomatoes aren’t doing well. Do you have any pointers?”

“Tomatoes?! Since when did you start growing a garden?” I was dumbfounded.

She HATED working out in the garden with me when she was younger. But, I never pressed it. I never suggested that she was lazy or anything like that. She’d be out in the heat with me and as soon as a single bead of sweat formed on her brow, “Daddy, it’s hot. Can I be done now?”

I’d never wanted her to feel “pressed” into doing what I enjoyed so much. So, I let her be and inside she went. Then, 16-17 years later she’s calling me about tomatoes? “Since when did you start growing a garden? You’d only be out with me for 15 minutes and then sit in the air for the rest of the day.”

“I learned from you daddy…at just 15-minutes at a time.”

Mowing the yard gives me a lot of time to contemplate. Once while mowing the yard, I thought that life is a lot like mowing the yard. It was then when I established the “Life is a Lawnmower” philosophy in parenting both my now 27-year-old and our 11-year-old. Let me explain:

Life is like a lawnmower. When it’s cutting the grass and all is well with the world, there are no significant decisions to be made. All you have to do is keep-on-keeping-on. It’s like life is just happening. There’s work ahead of the lawnmower, effort AT the lawnmower and the reward of the freshly cut grass behind the lawnmower. However, there are times when our lawnmower stalls out. We study the lawnmower (life). We may give it a good kick. It may just need gasoline. We stop and give the lawnmower (life) what it wants…we make a choice. But, when we reach down to start the mower with our right hand, we burn our left hand on the muffler. OUCH!

Life (the lawnmower) had just taught us a lesson…whatever that lesson may be. We pull back our hand and study the cause of the burn. “OH! I ain’t ever doing that again.” We adjust our position in life and try to start the lawnmower again. Success! We have a burn and it will leave a scar to remind us of the lesson we learned from our life and we vow never to do that again.

Again, life is good. The high grass in front of us needs cutting; fresh and level grass is behind us. Then we hit a big snag! A big stick (a problem or choice in life) under our lawnmower and life conks out again. We stop and say, “I can fix this all my myself.” We reach under the mower to pull the stick and the mower suddenly starts and CHOPS OFF OUR HAND! Major life event!! Life has taught us a lesson and we again promise ourselves, “OH! I ain’t ever doing that again.” However, unlike the burn from the muffler, the life-injury has been so profound that we are now lame from the event and find it more difficult to cover the high grass in front of us on our life’s journey.

When my children are mowing along their life’s lawn, their life’s lawnmower may stop running. I offer advice and encouragement and suggest what decisions may avoid the “burn” from the “life’s” lawnmower muffler. If they are unsure and want to test things for themselves, then I usually let “life” do the teaching. They’ll get burned, get their scar and vow never do that again. However, when my children are about to reach and pull the stick out from under the lawnmower, I scream and shout and do whatever I can to to keep them from making that same mistake I committed during my own life.

We parents want to help our children mow their yards with their life’s lawnmower but we too find it difficult with our single remaining hand. Just like your wish to go back and change a decision, “If I could go back and know what I know now…” Though loving support and encouragement, we can (figuratively speaking)  “go back” and help our children live a life with fewer mistakes and challenges.

  • Parents: Keep Encouraging.
  • Kids: Keep listening.
  • School Nurse: Be the Example.

Sometimes parents need a little help with there own challenges and examples they are making for their children. Is it the school nurse’s responsibility to raise someone else’s children? No! I got enough parenting challenges of my own. But, at the same time, my example may help that one child.

These aren’t just little children, they are all little “adults in training.” They’ve got 15-20 years to “get it” because they will spend the next 50-60 years needing to have gotten-it. Because children will inevitably disregard the “do-as-I-say-and-not-as-I-do” order and follow the “do-as-I-do-and-not-as-I-say” example they have in their worlds…then they will only have 20-30 years to be an adult. And, in the end, they will say to their hospice nurse, “If only I hadn’t smoked, done drugs, drank too much, been so promiscuous, or eaten so much, maybe I’d have had a nicer life.”

I wrote this article sometime ago for another blog I use (kinda still do) maintain. It doesn’t really “fit” the school nurse gene but in a way it does. What do you think?

Nurse Kevin hopes you enjoyed Life Is A Lawnmower (Go See The Nurse Version).

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Nurse Kevin
Nurse Kevin is a school nurse who takes care of school children in Southwestern Idaho. Nurse Kevin authors content for many different websites including,,,,,

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