I did a double-take this morning when I glanced out my kitchen window and saw a child swinging on our well-worn swing set. I tiptoed into the family room to see if my 18 year old granddaughter was still sleeping. She often comes in late after work and sleeps on our couch. She was still fast asleep and doesn’t usually head to the swing anymore so I went back to the window and recognized the daughter of someone who uses our machine shop to work on projects.
I watched her for a few minutes swinging rhythmically back and forth, and a thousand images filled my head. When my oldest daughter was about two years old, my Mom and Dad purchased two metal swing sets. One for my daughter and one for my niece who was just five months younger. The swing sets were bright orange with two bright flat yellow plastic seats, a two person teeter-totter swing, and a metal slide. I can still see Mom and Dad in their garage, unpacking two boxes full of swing set parts and nuts and bolts and pieces and parts. When the frames were assembled, Mom and Dad, hauled them in the back of their pickup truck to each of their houses and set them up, adding the swings, and slide after it was delivered.
From there the images changed to endless hours swinging toddlers until they fell asleep and could be carefully carried inside for a nap. Later, when the toddlers grew they were able to swing themselves and learned to “pump” to get going and keep momentum. Still there was always that cry, “push me! higher!” When my son was born, one of the yellow swings was replaced with a bright blue baby swing….and the endless hours began again, this time with an older sister who could help push.
By the time my third child arrived, the swing set was in risky condition. One of the frames had bent and cracked and started to rust. The paint was chipped and spots of rust had appeared. We used it for awhile with a new baby swing but eventually it needed to be replaced with a wooden set that had a blue bucket type swing and a set of rings and an metal trapeze. My third and youngest child spent more hours on the swing than either of the older children. I think it was a soothing place for them. Before I knew it there were grandchildren swinging, another baby swing was brought in to replace the trapeze and we were back to the beginning again.
Fuzzier images then appeared going back at least 50 years. A wooden swing hanging from a tree branch was a pleasant past time for me. There was something special about a tree swing. Not only did you get the back and forth movement, but you got a swaying and up and down movement from the tree branch. And sometimes a creaking sound as the rope rubbed against the limb of the tree. Tire swings came and went as well. Its hard to picture our yard without some kind of a swing.
There is something soothing about a swing, whether you are the swinger or the swingee. It can rock the baby to sleep, soothe the fussy toddler, and chase away boredom for an older child. It can be a place of imaginary adventures when a friend comes over to play.
For Christmas a couple of years ago I received a wooden swing with frame from my daughter. I couldnt wait to set it up on the patio and enjoyed the familiar motion. This summer we moved it out to the pond under a large shade tree. A perfect place to sit and swing and soothe and relax.