Ode to yard work, or why I had sons

I'm not a yard guy. I've mentioned that before, but now, on the cusp of summer, seems like a good time to reiterate the point. It's also a good time to aerate, but I'm not going there.

Basically, the only thing I do in my yard is keep the grass mowed. And I don't even do that myself. That's why I had three sons, spaced well apart.

My oldest son, almost 17, started mowing the yard regularly about seven years ago. If his youngest brother, now 8, doesn't move out until he's at least 18, that means I won't have had to cut grass for 17 years. Is there a lazy man's hall of fame?

I'm not sure what I'll do when the last son leaves home. I'm considering adoption, although hiring my own full-time gardener might be cheaper.

I've also benefited over the years from a rather open-minded definition of grass as "something green that grows in your yard." Bermuda, fescue, monkey, crab - it's all grass to me. Keep it cut and no one can tell the difference, except maybe that woman from the Homeowners Association who walks her dog five times a day and takes issue with the color of people's flowerpots.

This generous definition has spared me a great deal of work. While my neighbors lay sod, spread fertilizer and pull "weeds," I use that time for other, more leisurely activities, such as hauling my kids back and forth from the ballpark six nights a week.

Admittedly, this attitude has made me unpopular with the neighborhood yard nazis. I've concluded, however, that the worst offenders - the ones who toil for countless hours to make their yards look like magazine ads - must not have children. Why else would they do the work themselves?

I read recently that you shouldn't judge a person because he or she has a messy car. In the frenetic pace of our lives, something has to give. The same could be said of a person's yard. For that matter, my yard actually looks better than my car.

All jokes aside, I have done more yard work than usual this spring, if for no other reason than to prevent the neighbors from circulating a petition.

For one thing, this past weekend I actually had to cut grass, because my middle son - whose job it has now become - said he wasn't feeling well. I'm pretty sure he was faking to get out of work, but the neurosurgeon disagreed. And the third son isn't quite old enough yet, though I certainly considered him. I imagine he felt a little like Hansel as I stroked my chin and eyed him contemplatively.

After mowing, much to everyone's surprise, I even fertilized. It was a poor grade of fertilizer, but I spread it on pretty thick.

Kind of reminded me of a homeowners' meeting.

Lawrenceville resident Rob Jenkins is associate professor of English and director of the Writers Institute at Georgia Perimeter College. E-mail him at rjenkinsgdp@yahoo.com.