I lay on my bed and passed the hours cycling potential consequences through my mind. What is dad going to do to me when he gets home? There’s going to be yelling, lots of it. I will probably be grounded for the rest of my life.
It all started earlier that morning. It was time to mow the lawn, which was no small task given our half acre yard. While my older brother cruised along on the riding mower, I was left raking and bagging the clippings he left in his wake. Oh how I hated fumbling with the rake that was nearly as big as me and the oversized super duty garbage bags as I struggled to hold the bag open with one hand and transfer the contents of the clipping piles into it with the other, all without creating a whole new pile to rake and re-bag in the process. Tired of the inequity of the situation and tired of being unable to propose any alternative because I was too afraid to drive the tractor, I begged,
“Please teach me to drive the tractor.”
“Why would I teach you? Figure it out yourself,” my brother responded.
As I watched him walk inside, a fire lit within. The tractor was in the driveway, sitting just outside the open door of the two-car garage. The hard part is done. All I need is to get it a few more feet down the driveway and into the grass.
I climbed onto the tractor and turned the key. I was giddy with power and terrified at the same time. As I stared down at the H-shaped gear shift, I realized I had no idea what I was doing. I jiggled it around a few times and managed to move it into what I thought was reverse. I took my foot off the break and pressed the gas pedal, but it was sticky and the tractor didn’t budge. So I took a deep breath and slammed my foot down.
Before I knew what was happening, the tractor darted forward into the garage. I panicked. Instead of simply putting my foot on the brake, I took my hands off the wheel and covered my head to protect myself from the tools and extension cords and shovels that were raining onto me as the tractor veered into the wall of the empty garage stall. Then, just as quickly, it somehow sped back in the opposite direction. Before I could move my hands from my head, it was over. With the sound of crumpling metal and shattering glass, the horror ended, right in the side panel of our minivan.
As my mother raced out from the kitchen, the panic in her eyes was quickly replaced with fury once she realized I was ok. My brother stood just beyond her, a look of disbelief on his face.
“It’s not my fault,” I sobbed. “I asked him to teach me and he wouldn’t.”
“Andrea, go to your room. Your father will deal with you when he gets home,” is all she could say.
The sound of my father’s approaching footsteps caused me to huddle in the farthest corner of my bed.
“What were you thinking?”
“I’m sorry dad,” I tearfully responded. “I wanted to prove I could do it.”
Maybe he was proud of me for finally having some gumption or sensed I had already punished myself enough, because the yelling and the grounding never came. He simply gave me a hug and said, “Kiddo, sometimes you prove yourself by knowing when to wait for help.”