Brotherhood and California Fall

Their offer to rake the leaves began the way acts of kindness by children sometimes do: enthusiastically and with an ulterior motive.

They were playing with Legos on a day off from school and decided to earn money for another set. Mikey is an entrepreneur. He writes a newspaper, illustrates comics, scours the streets for treasures he can pawn, and has created a sliding scale fee schedule for chores around the house and neighborhood.

Nico follows along.

But for all his shadowing, Nico knows when to break off on his own. When Mikey went outside to pick up dog poop for $2–$8 away from a small Lego set, Mom–Nico offered to rake leaves. He has a sensitive stomach and an active gag reflex; he once threw up after watching the production process for chicken nuggets. Skipping the poop was a good choice.

Mikey wrestled with feces for a while longer before he went out and joined Nicholas.

They were out there for an hour before Nico came up with another great idea. Since they were already raking the leaves into two piles, it would be a missed opportunity if they didn’t take a running leap into the piles like they do on TV. Mikey was on board and after a couple of hours, they had their piles.

Motherhood is a series of teaching moments, some more productive than others. Nicholas learned three irrefutable truths of childhood when ran across the lawn and jumped into that pile of leaves.

No. 1

A pile of leaves made for jumping should be just as tall and twice as wide as the person jumping to avoid injury.

No. 2

California in Autumn does not produce enough leaves to build a pile just as high and twice as wide as the person jumping.

No. 3

A brother will always laugh without reservation at another brother who falls down loud enough to yelp but not loud enough to get injured.


Jules Kendall writes about books, family, and easygoing simplicity.


  1. says

    For a moment there I was worried that one of the lessons would be to make sure you pick up all the poop before jumping into the pile of leaves. I am more than a little relieved!

  2. Jeanine says

    I’m relieved that Nicholas didn’t break anything when he jumped in those leaves, as one of my sons did at about that age. A very hard lesson learned, indeed. Still, it looks like they had a lot of fun, and I do miss those lego, leaf-jumping, wild, and crazy days now that my three sons are grown.

    • says

      Hah! See how little I know about leaves and Fall? I didn’t even know breaking bones while leaf jumping was a common occurrence. I did tell them to jump feet first, so I must have had some idea.

      Of course, if one of them had really injured themselves I would have never written this post. :)

  3. says

    Ah, those were the days . . . when raking leaves was fun!

    And Nico’s active gag reflex reminds me of my brother. When little, he would gag all the way through Pike Place Market and Fisherman’s Wharf because it smelled just a bit too fishy. We were so proud when he became a father and actually changed dirty diapers–though we would, occasionally, hear him in there gagging. :)

    • says

      Nico can’t eat yogurt. The texture undoes him. He used to love yogurt, but he once looked at the bottom of an empty yogurt cup (his own, mind you) and started gagging uncontrollably. I can’t get him to eat yogurt anymore unless it is one of those go-gurts where he can’t see it. (???????)

      He also has to put the dishes in the sink without looking, or he’ll start gagging if he sees a dirty dish with a bit of food on it. This, I understand. My husband always dumps in the plates without scraping them, and I swear it’s one of the things we fight about because it’s GROSS. Mine are scraped and rinsed—practically clean–and sit in a neat stack.

      I can’t imagine Nico managing to change a diaper without passing out.

  4. says

    They would be in leaf HEAVEN if my yard could magically transpose with your yard. Five large trees during/after a Midwest fall makes for many more than 2 piles of leaves. They could have a pile the size of a couple play houses!

      • says

        The neices and nephews visit on the Saturday following Thanksgiving. It’s been tradition since I bought the house. The kids ALWAYS want to rake the leaves! None of them have leaves at their houses, lol. So I’m always more than willing to indulge them πŸ˜‰

  5. Jo says

    I was sure one of the truths of childhood was going to be ‘make sure your brother has cleaned up all the dog poop before jumping in leaves’ πŸ˜‰

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