Give him an old lawn mower (without the blade), a trailer and the promise of $3 for picking up sticks and he's off. Running. Tell him we can call it "John's tractor" and he's grinning ear to ear, it's one of his proudest moments.
Of the three kids this one has really got the entreprenurial spirit. Tell him he can make money and he jumps at the chance. He gathers coins from the bottom of the bus, digs it out of people's couches (last night at a friend's house) and spots everything shiny in a parking lot. He saves it all up and before I know it he's ready to buy Legos.
The best was Kevin's commentary at one point. I was working on, what else, the orange sweater and he was giving me the play by play, "oh boy, now he's pulling up to the burn pile...he's stopping...uh oh....he's backing up....uh oh....JACKKNIFE!" Out the door he ran for another tutorial.
The other use for the tractor John immediately thought of was giving the girls trailer rides. I'll be sure to include pictures when that happens.
I say I wonder where John got his desire to be self-sufficient, but I do remember a little girl in the early 1980's who, when she could barely push a lawnmower had started her own mowing business with her best friend, the little boy across the street. It was hardly the thing any of my other friends were doing at the time but it seemed like the perfect idea to me. We did this for several summers and it generated some nice income. One incident that stands out is when I wasn't sure if the weed infested free standing flower bed of the elderly lady across the street was to be mowed or not. I thought it looked like it needed tidying so I hacked away at it and ended up running over a railroad stake from the trolley car that used to run down the street and through her side yard decades before. I think it cost my dad $400 in lawnmower repairs because I bent the motor shaft or something major. I didn't go back to her house much after that.
Kevin's parting words as he went off to Orvis were priceless. "Now remember, he's gonna crash at some point, and probably more than once. Let's just hope it's not into your car or anything, that could be kind of expensive."
Good thing I'm not too much of a worrier.