Thirty Years Later It Still Rings True……

For the past several weeks my husband and I have been staring at a very large brown piece of dirt.  This space used to grow nice green grass.  But then something happened.  School got out.  Lots of boys started playing soccer in our front yard.  They also had water fights.  For two days, until it was mangled, they would refresh themselves from the heat with our Slip N’ Slide.  Did I mention flashlight tag? Wrestling?  Frisbee Golf? Almost immediately a small area of grass died.  Then it grew rapidly, like an ink stain on a piece of white cotton.  The more the boys played, the bigger the stain.  But I couldn’t tell my son and his friends to stop playing.  While my husband fretted that the lawn looked horrible I said to him, “One day we are going to miss that dead grass.”

Last night I needed a laugh before I went to bed so I pulled out my favorite Erma Bombeck book and read several of her best columns.  All of a sudden, this classic popped out in front of me.  This piece was written in 1973 but boy, did it speak to me almost thirty years later.  I’m going to copy it verbatim and probably break every copyright law, but heck, it needs to be re-read and appreciated.  The old saying is true,  “the more things change, the more they stay the same.”

Mike and the Grass — May 1973

When Mike was three, he wanted a sandbox, and his father said, “There goes the yard.  We’ll have kids over here day and night, and they’ll throw sand into the flower beds and cats will make a mess in it, and it’ll kill the grass for sure.”

And Mike’s mother said, “It’ll come back.”

When Mike was five, he wanted a jungle-gym set with swings that would take his breath away and bars to take him to the summit, and his father said, “Good grief.  I’ve seen those things in backyards, and do you know what they look like?  Mud holes in a pasture.  Kids digging their gym shoes in the ground.  It’ll kill the grass.”

And Mike’s mother said, “It’ll come back.”

Between breaths when Daddy was blowing up the plastic swimming pool, he warned,  “You know what they’re going to do to this place?  They’re going to condemn it and use it for a missile site.  I hope you know what you’re doing. They’ll track water everywhere and have a million water fights and you won’t be able to take out the garbage without stepping in mud up to your neck.  When we take this down, we’ll have the only brown lawn on the block.”

“It’ll come back,” Mike’s mother said.

When Mike was 12, he volunteered his yard for a camp-out.  As they hoisted the tents and drove in the spikes, his father stood at the window and observed: “Why don’t I just put the grass seed out in cereal bowls for the birds and save myself trouble spreading it around? You know for a fact that those tents and all those big feet are going to trample down every single blade of grass, don’t you?  Don’t bother to answer.  I know what you’re going to say.  “It’ll come back.””

The basketball hoop on the side of the garage attracted more crowds than the Olympics.  And a small patch of lawn that started out with a barren spot the size of a garbage can lid soon grew to encompass the entire side yard.

Just when it looked as if the new seed might take root, the winter came and the sled runners beat it into ridges.  Mike’s father shook his head and said, “I never asked for much in this life, only a patch of grass.”

And his wife smiled and said, “It’ll come back.”

The lawn this fall was beautiful.  It was green and alive and rolled out like a sponge carpet along the drive where the gym shoes had trod….along the garage where bicycles used to fall….and around the flower beds where little boys used to dig with iced-tea spoons.

But Mike’s father never saw it.  He anxiously looked beyond the yard and asked with a catch in his voice, “He will come back, won’t he?”

“It’ll come back”

Pardon me while I go and give my son a hug.


22 thoughts on “Thirty Years Later It Still Rings True……

  1. This is fantastic. I am weeping and wish I had the brown spot back…………but I do have my granddaughter sitting here with us, looking at videos of when she was young…….enjoy every hand print, every brown spot,the laughter and mess……….

  2. I'm here from MBC-writer's group. Thanks for inviting me to read this. I'm so glad I found your blog. You (and Erma) said exactly what I think all the time. And forget all the time. So thank you.

  3. Following you from MBC! What a great post. (I don't think the copyright police will be upset since you gave Erma her credit)! I was just saying to my family the other day that when the house is finally clean and quiet, I will want the mess and the noise back. My kids are 12 and 16 and I am so emotional thinking about my daughter going away to college in 2 years. I told her I would be supportive though. "Honey, you can go to any school you want. As long as it is a 20 minute drive from our house!" =)

    Can't wait to read more of your posts!

  4. Erma Bombeck's writing was poignant yet funny. That's what set her apart from the other humorists. Amazing person. She has so many wonderful reflective quotes about life in a book she wrote when she was dying.

  5. This is great! I am hoping to create a lawn sign to put out front of our house…"Excuse the weeds…we are growing children!" Great reminder. I am off to hug my kids and kill some grass.

  6. awwwww! Thanks for dropping by my blog(s). It is so fun to find new blogs to read!!!

    Crafting by Candlelight
    Life by Candlelight

  7. OMG, so true so true!! We have that same brown patch in our backyard from the slip n slide and the kiddie pool and all the other horsing around that goes on back there. My husband is always griping about how bad the yard looks, but now I know what to tell him. "It'll come back." And these wonderful times with our young boys, they are what won't last forever. Thank you for this beautiful and touching post!

  8. Great reminder!!! last night I cleaned and cleaned and swept and mopped the kitchen floor. I woke to a mess in the kitchen and a dirty floor!!! Really!!! again!! but your reminder is great!! My beautiful house is getting worn!!! and sometimes I think…… someday it will stay nice and clean and I will have time to do things I really want to do!!!! But without my kids I wouldn’t be whole!!!!!

  9. Julie, I just found this through your facebook. It was wonderful. I’m getting ready to send my daughter off to college so this really hit home! You are a fantastic writer!

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