This is not an article for dads.
In fact, if you have teenagers in your life who refer to or think of you as “dad”, you can probably just skip this article and forward it to them. Because that is who really needs this advice.
There is nothing more detestable to our teenagers than the thought of yard work. It’s hot, gives blisters on your hands, and there is going to be some bug in that yard that is as big as a 1972 Volvo. Those mouthy little bastards always know how to push your buttons.
Now, your dad is going to say things like yard work builds character as if it’s a great construction project. He’s got his “dad” hard hat and his “dad” tool belt, and yard work is just the medium that he is working in today. What you know is that your dad is lying.
Yup, Mr. Figgy Pudding is telling a fib. Yard work does not build character. It builds rashes from poison ivy that your dad swore was not in the yard.
But you can’t say that if you want to get out of yard work. That’s not going to convince him at all. Luckily, there are tried and true ways to get out of it that won’t destroy his fantasy of character building and making you a better person.
You know who was a great person? Gandhi. And I don’t think Gandhi ever had to mow a yard and pick up sticks. It’s doubtful he even mulched a flowerbed. So, let’s be a better person like Gandhi and not do yard work.
Here’s some advice on how to get out of it from a father that knows his weaknesses.
- Don’t start with the doe eyes and the pouty lip. What you need to realize is that you’ve been giving him that look since the day you were born. Since then, he has built up an immunity to that look. You’ve got to find a way to break through his hardened shell. So slyly, and very calmly, remind him that he once promised you a pony that he never delivered on. Sure, it was said in the heat of the moment when he made that promise and it really was just a joke. But who’s laughing now, buddy! Use that guilt to get out of all that yard work.
- Nothing gets you out of yard work faster than an injury. Begin your prep work by watching a full week of national league soccer. What I want you to notice here is the pure Oscar-winning acting going on. If they can fake an injury from a breeze, then you surely can learn how to trip over a blade of grass. Really sell the performance. Scream and holler about the end times. Say that you see a bright light and mamma is calling you home. Point out the gushing blood from the non-existent cut. Once you got that down, you’ll be binging The Vampire Diaries on Netflix in no time.
- If there is one thing that dad loves to do more than anything else, it is to hear himself talk. He’s got years of daily affirmations that he has always wanted to share. Now is your chance to turn his strength against him. Start simply by asking how a mortgage works. Then move onto taxes and his life experiences. Before you know it, he’s talking about his glory days as a high school football player and the girl that broke his heart. When you see that wistful look in his eyes, offer to go get ice cream with him. He’ll forget all about the yard work.
- Realize that it’s not only his inner demons that he’s fighting, there are exterior ones as well. Namely the neighbors and HOA. He feels their leering eyes on his lawn at all times. So, go make some official HOA letterhead using your Gen Z computer skills and write him a letter. Explain that his yard is just too good-looking and it’s making the rest of the neighbors look bad. Tell him he needs to bring it down a notch. This way, you play both into both his pride and his vanity. You might have to do a little yard work, but not much.
- It’s time for the killer punch here guaranteed to get you out of yard work. What you really have to know is your dad’s motivation. Why is he obsessed with doing yard work with you? It’s because he has given his all every year, day after day, just to make you happy. And that as time has gone on, he has seen you grow from that small little person to the amazing young adult you are. But now he is getting sentimental and knows that his time with you is limited. He can see the day you leave and go off to college and he is using yard work to desperately grab onto any time he can get with you. It’s never been about the yard work, it’s always been about spending time with you. So, what I want you to do now is to break his over-generous heart. Snap that bastard right in two and tell him that you don’t need him anymore. That you’ve outgrown his hugs and find his dad jokes annoying. When his shoulders slump, you’re almost there. Remind him that he is an old man that is trying to hold onto something and honestly, it’s a bit pathetic. When he starts crying, now you’ve got him.
Congratulations, young teen, on getting out of yard work and destroying your father in the process!
Of course, it would probably be easier to just lay down the mulch with your dad and spend time with him. After all, he’s not young anymore and is just trying to build memories that will last you a lifetime. But what’s that when compared to a rousing round of scrolling through your phone for two hours?
Memories build themselves, really, and the best ones are spent staring at a screen and not in the presence of the man that would give you the entire world if he could. Have a great rest of your life not having any character, which yard work 100% builds.