For years we had a trampled brown space under the swingset. Years of sneakered (or bare) feet dragging back and forth on the swings wore ruts in the ground.
Ditto the landing area at the bottom of the slide. The sandbox area — filled with pea gravel so a little boy and girl could play for hours loading and unloading rocks in tiny trucks — left a brown square on the ground.
The trampoline — always a thrilling way to give your mother grey hairs — sunk divots into the ground.
Across the drive the swimming pool definitely left a mark. The perfect circle of sand and tamped dirt was disguised (badly) as a flower bed after the pool was removed.
The deck that once surrounded the pool still bears the marks of stain worn through from years of chlorine dripping off bare feet.
Miles worn across the boards by children yelling “Mommy! Watch me!” Before every cannonball.
Fact of life
I didn’t sweat the slip and slide that left brown spots cascading down the front hill. Nor the sledding party bonfires that left burnt rings in the ground long after the snow left. There is a spot under the trees out back where all the best dogs are buried.
It is shady and lush with good sightlines to the house and pasture. Still, it sunk a bit and the grass doesn’t match the area around it. Speaking of grass, I never liked the idea of using chemicals on a lawn used by children, pets and so close to our drinking water, so we didn’t.
Our lawn has always been more of a yard — and sometimes that’s a stretch. It is made up of hardy weeds with little spots of Kentucky Bluegrass that grow in tufts.
Daddy tried. Then he gave up. We never had a manicured country club sort of lawn. Ours was more the Clampett sort of property.
A tangle of soccer nets and balls in various states of deflation (between the kids and the dogs there was a hierarchy of ball life before the tattered remains eventually retired).
Volleyball nets, pick-up games of kickball, and just the wild melee of running amuck ran circles in the grass.
Later, friends who could drive would descend en masse and park in the grass for bonfires that burnt bald patches to the dirt. With work and family and endless soccer seasons (with breaks for camping and boating because ours is a blessed life) summers we were never much into yard work.
A brush hog and weedwacker were our lawn care tools of choice. Sometimes in late spring, Mother’s Day and pressure from all the Garden Center ads caused us to throw some potted plants on the patio.
They inevitably died. Ours was sort of a hospice stop for plants.
Our favorite tree, a huge spreading hulk that shaded the 1/4 front of the house, fell in an ice storm one November. I was crushed.
Later two more trees would be removed. Tiny Christmas trees, planted by former owners, eventually grew too large and close together, threatening the porch. Still, I mourned their loss.
It seems fitting that BoyWonder, grown, recently planted the replacement trees that we hope replace the ones that came before.
The boy that grew here planting trees in hopes the trees would grow as well. In short, our yard has been a hot mess (but a whole lot of fun) for twenty summers. This is our second summer with grown children. Out of high school now they work and attend college and don’t have a lot of time for tearing up the yard.
Now, the grass is fairly unscathed.
The slip and slide hasn’t seen the light of day in ages. The swing set was removed a few years ago and now only memory serves to remind us where it once stood.
The lawn and short of it is that the grass grew back. Everyone said it would. I didn’t quite believe them in the moments of ball games, swimming pools, bubble wands and lightning bugs. I guess parents somehow never do.
Grass grows back
As summer winds down and children return to school — or grow up altogether — I want to assure my fellow parenting friends not to sweat the wear and tear on a property. One day, almost without your noticing, the kids grow up and the grass grows back.
Today our yard looks better than it has in two decades — but then again, it doesn’t.
All those years spent raising children were inordinately more fun than raising grass.
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