My son's latest attempt to drive the tractor by himself almost resulted in the total destruction of a couple fuel tanks, the storage shed they were in, and of course himself. The day before this almost fatal event, Mike and Wyatt were picking up weeds together after doing some mowing around the property. Mike had spent some considerable time with the boy doing clean up and driving the Kubota everywhere. Mike had carefully instructed Wyatt on moving the shifter back and forth and raising and lowering the bucket accordingly. Since Wyatt is too short to use the gas pedal he uses an accelerator attached to the steering column to make the tractor go faster or slower when in gear. There is a cute little turtle and rabbit on the handle that he understands perfectly well.
I was undeniably happy to see the two of them working together since Mike is gone at work alot of the week during the summer and Wyatt misses his Dada alot. They had a great time doing male bonding stuff that they're supposed to. The final issuance from father to son was an emphatic directive that Wyatt could not drive the tractor without Dad or Mom.
But after having a total "tractor day" with Daddy, Wyatt was convinced he was now a fully qualified operating engineer. We should know better to believe that the most critical instruction actually sunk into his brain's receptors that acknowledge information. Like his Dad, there are moments when his eyes glaze over and my words float above him drifting off into the atmosphere like a freed balloon. And there are the pure rebellious streaks when his eyebrows knit together, much like my own, and our directives bounce off his forehead like he is some super hero defecting weapons of mass destruction. The reality is that Wyatt does not hear what he does not want to.
Thusly instructed by his Dad, he still insisted on telling me in private later that day that he could drive the tractor by himself. I really did not think much of his declaration since I get this type of statement from Wyatt regularly, as his assessment of his skills and his true abilities are often exaggerated by his mouth. What 3 and a half year old wouldn't think they could drive a tractor solo?
The next morning I told Wyatt we were going to drag the arena and he excitedly ran off toward the front door, slamming it as he exited the house. I was getting Ella ready with shoes inside and really thought nothing of it. As I walked outside about a minute and half later, I witnessed the tractor backing slowly out of the barn. A cold sweat of panic is all I felt as put Ella down to gallop to rescue Wyatt from certain disaster. The tractor gets parked in a narrow lean-to and there are tanks and storage areas directly behind it. The creeping orange machine was inching toward no uncertain mayhem.
In the drivers seat Wyatt resembled the Wizard from Oz in miniature form, with his arms moving frantically back and forth, pulling this and that, in effort to do something. His tiny pivoting head was looking to the front and then quickly to the back of the tractor and I knew he did not know what to do. The metal tractor bucket was still on the ground and was scratching a chalk board symphony on top of the base rock. Additionally, the box scraper was planted at the rear of the Kubota and was grinding rocks and kicking up dust as the tractor slowly jerked backward.
I know that while I was running, I was screaming at Wyatt to turn the Kubota off. The dash between the house and the shop is only 10 seconds, maybe 15 on a slow day, but I could not get there fast enough. When I got close enough to see Wyatt's face, his expression was of fear since he clearly knew he got himself in to more than he expected. By the time I got to Kubota he had finally flipped the shifter into Neutral and the tractor had stopped. The only damage that resulted was some minor scraping to the ladders that led up to the fuel tanks. Had the tractor crept backward another five feet it would have brought down the storage shed that housed them.
In retrospect, I think that in his mind, Wyatt was driving the tractor with me, even though I was still at the house. But I could not let his interpretation of the events get saved in his hard drive. What surprises me most is that after a spanking, a good ass chewing, and some time in his room, Wyatt still had the confidence and bravado to tell his nanny a few hours later, "Rose, I can drive the tractor by myself." I think I am doomed.