It was too quiet Friday morning, so I looked outside and saw the little guy working on the tractor with PopPop. From the upstairs window it was just the cutest thing. Then I went outside to inspect closer. Oh my. Grandson was busy at work scraping gunk off the tractor engine. This is a 1952 tractor and I know for a fact that no one has cleaned any gunk off that tractor since we moved up here in 1993, and who knows when before that. But PopPop had the six-year-old happily at work. The smile on kiddo’s face attested to “happy;” the automotive grease smeared all over his face, winter coat, and jeans attested to work.
And then there were his hands. We have countless pairs of disposable gloves around the house, but why would you give a boy gloves to wear to scrape twenty years of engine gunk off a tractor? Hmmm????
The kid had man hands. No, I’m not referring to the Seinfeld episode. I’m referring to the man-sized grime on those little mitts. He looked like a regular mechanic, and he was proud of it, too. Well, before Mr. Junior Mechanic entered the house he needed a lesson on how to use the de-greaser. It’s pretty cool for a kid to have hands are sooooo dirty that he has to use a pre-wash on them. He dutifully used the de-greaser (twice, at my insistence) and rubbed the grimy glop off his hands with paper towels. Then we went upstairs to the bathroom, with me opening all doors and turning all knobs. Gobs and blobs of soap followed, with a soak in the sink and a nail brush loaded with more soap. Grimy clothes were removed and deposited by the washer to await PopPop’s grimy additions later.
Earlier in the week, grandson helped PopPop with sawyering. That was a cleaner project–even with the tumbles into the dirt. His job was to hose off the logs and then each board as it was sawn. When not busy with the hose, he climbed all over any logs or branches he could find. He made an impromptu see-saw from a few pieces of wood. Later, he practiced his balancing by walking across logs. I pondered briefly whether he might break his arm or something if he fell, but I still managed to get distracted by PopPop cutting down a tree just as the little guy fell from his balancing post.
“MomMom, I fell.”
“Are you hurt?”
He points to his chest. A quick examination reveals a three-inch scratch. We go inside to clean it and apply a band-aid the size of Montana. I warn him that a band-aid that size will freak out his mother. And sure enough it does, because he knows just how to present it.
“Mom!!! I fell off a tree and hurt myself!!!!”
“Oh my gosh, honey, are you ok?”
He pulls up his shirt to reveal the band-aid the size of Montana. I’m upstairs but can hear her maternal wail. The kid is totally messing with her. There is nothing wrong with him. He is 100% boy. And he knows his mom is 100% girl. He has already figured out how to work that. And after a day of hosing logs and falling over trees, he doesn’t understand why he might need to change and wash up before heading off to a birthday party.
Ah…little man. And learning from the master of dirt himself–PopPop.