I saw a swing set being transported today. I was on the highway, returning home from a perfect “mini vacation” and a flatbed truck whizzed by me with a wooden swing set wobbling on the back. Memories of my old swing set flooded back into my mind.
My swing set growing up was simple. It had two swings, side by side, a sliding board at one end and a “swinging horse” at the other. The supports of the swing set had acrobat bars on which I used to spend hours hanging upside down. I remembered the feeling of flying when I really got going on one of the swings. My mom used to get mad because the entire swing set would jump a little and I guess she was afraid I really would go sailing off into the air and the swing set would topple behind me.
My best friend, Laura, taught me how to pump really hard so the swing would go as high as possible and then jump off the swing and run in the air for a few seconds. Our swing set was right outside our kitchen window and when my mom was cooking dinner, I would do this little trick and act like I was going to fly through the window. Again, Mom wasn’t too happy about that learned stunt.
My brother and I used to throw an old tarp over the sliding board and use it as a fort. When the neighborhood kids gathered at our house, we would play army and I used to love doing a “surprise attack”, sliding down the board and jumping out from under the tarp, just as the “enemy” was sneaking by. Or if one of us was on the swinging horse, we would “ride the horse” to go and save our teammate and he or she would have to jump on while the horse was riding by and we would run off into the sunset, never to be captured! HA!
I remember coming home from college one year and the swing set had been taken away and our neighbors had put up a fence along their property line where our swing set used to be. I stood for a very long time just staring out the window, picturing all the fun that swing set brought me in my childhood.
With all those thoughts of my swing set, came memories of all the simple toys I had when I was a little girl. A hoola hoop. A jumprope. A “skip-bop”, where one end of the contraption had a loop to go around your ankle and was attached by a short cord that had a bell at the other end. The purpose was to swing the bell end around with your looped ankle piece and jump over the bell as it passed by. A Frisbee, which was used as it was intended OR as a dish that held food for our “long journeys across the country”. Two Pringles cans that were attached with a vvvvveeeeerrrrryyyyy long string so we could secretly warn our teammates when the enemy was approaching. (Never mind the string that gave away our exact locations 😉 !) And, of course, my dad had to replace our basketball net every year because I would “shoot hoops” till the net wore out and fell off.
I had a student in my summer school class this year who just kept saying that he wished he was born when his dad was born. He wished he had the toys that his dad talked about all the time. He wished his life was slower and more laid back. He wished when he went outside, he had friends who were outside, ready to go off on some made up adventure.
I wish all that for him too. When I hear young people today telling me that their summers were one sports camp after another or long hours on a plane to some exotic land or day after day of just sitting on a couch, staring at a screen, I am sad for them.
I want the kids in today’s world to get up at the first hint of sunlight, rush to get chores done, and then fly out the door for the day, and not return home until they hear their name being hollered through the neighborhood to come home for dinner. I want them to have a picnic table that serves as their diving board and they “practice their dives” for hours and imagine what it would be like to win an Olympic gold medal. I want them to climb trees and ride their bikes and JUST BE KIDS, without any worries.
That “swing set truck” turned off the highway a few exits before me. Wherever it was going; whoever the lucky swing set receivers were . . .I wish you years of imagination and fun and dreams that may never come true but sure are fun to conjure!