I remember being about four or five years old when a long, fascinating cardboard box was delivered to our house. It turned out that in that box was a metal swing set for my brother and I. Two swings, a slide, monkey bars, rings and a bar. We spent countless hours on that swing set.
Of course, it has been more than twenty-five years since that day (shut up) and, Washington being a rainy state and the swing set being metal, it long ago rusted and became unsafe. My parents replaced it with a wooden play set for the grandkids, but saved the two well-loved swings.
When Zach, Zoey and I moved into our current house, one of the first things we did was hang a blue plastic baby swing from the maple tree in the backyard. Zoey, and later Eleanor, have spent many happy hours in that swing. This year, though, Zoey is too big for the baby swing. Eleanor is so tall that it is difficult for me to lift her in and out of it. The plastic is starting to crack, making me worry about safety. It was time to take down the baby swing.
So I went to the garage and dug out the two old, big kid swings my parents had saved from my childhood. The red rubber of the seats is faded, the blue plastic covering the chains is cracked in many places, the chains themselves are quite rusty. They’re perfect. Zach and I hung them up and the girls have not stopped swinging since. I found them out there first thing in the morning, still wearing their pajamas. They are much more willing to go outside and play now that there are swings they can get on and off of by themselves. I just love watching them take turns pushing and spinning each other.
After a day of countless hours spent outside swinging and playing, we sat down at the backyard picnic table to eat dinner al fresco. Suddenly Zach said to Zoey, “Don’t move.” Then he reached out and grabbed a bright green grasshopper from off of Zoey’s head! We all laughed and I told Zoey she must be lucky for the grasshopper to have chosen her as a perch. She named him Grassy and put him in her little bug house (we let him go about an hour later).
I then created a big mud puddle in a dirt patch in the lawn and tried to teach the kids to play in it. Eleanor proved to be a much more willing pupil. Zoey (predictably) didn’t like that it made her “dirty.”
Swings, bugs, mud and a picnic dinner: what a perfect, childhood summer day.