Growing up in a two-story blue colonial with white shutters, nestled on 20 acres of land in a rural town, much of my childhood was spent outdoors. Climbing trees, naming a specific grouping "the kingdom" because of their perfect, ladder-like limbs, chasing butterflies through the dandelions, trekking to the pond to catch slimy frogs and sticky toads, my sister and I loved playing outside. But there's one memory that sticks out in my mind a bit more than all the others and that involves a green, riding lawnmower.
If you grew up in the 80's or 90's, you know that everyone and their mother had a power wheel. From pink Barbie-like cars, to red Jeeps, power wheels were the much coveted, coolest toys to have. Over and over again, after riding our cousins' super cool, Jeep power wheel, my sister and I begged our parents for our very own. And much to our disappointment, we never got one. However, looking back it's clear that we didn't need one.
Around the ages of 6 and 8, my dad taught us how to drive the green lawnmower on the "ride" aka the "not cutting" setting (which I now realize was a bit risky hah). Donned with a black seat and a red lever that you pushed from the turtle to the rabbit to increase speed, this green machine instantly became our favorite toy. We loved driving that thing. Back by the pond, through the trees, around the swing set and over the mound that felt like a rollercoaster, we were in our very own power wheel heaven. But, here's the funny part. Being the little sister I hardly ever got to drive. From "timing me" as I ran upstairs to grab her favorite toy (which I am pretty sure I have Full House to thank), to delegating the chores we were assigned on Saturday mornings, my sister was pretty good at getting me to do what she wanted. But my favorite, was how she convinced me to let her be the sole driver of the lawnmower.
Sharing the bucket seat and clinging on for dear life, the machine would jerk forward as my sister stepped on the gas pedal and directed us toward the swing set. Coming to an abrupt stop, she'd say, "Min, let's pretend the swingset is the grocery store. I will drop you off, you can get the groceries and I will pick you up later." Entranced in the story, I'd slide off the seat, say, "Ooh! Okay Stephi! That sounds fun!" and run towards the make-believe grocery store. "Bye Stephi!" I'd wave, "See you soon!!" And off she went. Round and round the yard, stopping ever so briefly to say, "Okay Mindy, keep shopping! I'll come back and pick you up in a bit." Only to race off again. I'd keep playing in the sand box, collecting "groceries" until finally, when she had her fill, she'd come back, pick me up, and maybe, maybe then I would get my turn driving.
I love telling this story because we have so many fun memories of riding that lawnmower. But I also love telling it because it gives me an opportunity to give my sister a hard time about all the years she tricked her innocent, little sister into doing anything and everything she wanted... ;) I like pretending to be all angsty like, "look what you did to me back in the day." But honestly, I did it all (and would do it all again) because of how much I love her. From riding the green lawnmower, to joining game nights with friends in high school, to visiting in college, and being roomies for a few months before my wedding, my sister has always welcomed me to share life with her. Now, living only ten houses apart, less than a two minute walk (I timed it) we are still doing life together; and I love it more than I love donuts (that is a lot). She's my ultimate favorite person to be cranky with, knows just what I need to get a good, tummy hurting laugh and she's most supportive, "always has my back and will beat up whoever hurts me" big sister.
So, my dear sister, may this memory of our very own power wheel be a little ode to you. Thank you for always letting me be a part of your world, even if it meant dropping me off at the "grocery store" so you could drive around like a wild woman. I love you. So much so, that I might even let you time me to see how long it takes for me to get you a glass of wine. ;)