Some friends moved into a new house last year. Looking up one day, they noticed a tree in the yard had a perfect branch for a swing. The long, thick, high branch was nearly horizontal to the ground, and the surrounding area had no obstacles, barriers or other impediments to the arc of a swing. They began plotting and installed the swing this summer. It has proved to be one of the happiest additions to their home.
As a little girl, the swings were my favorite part of every playground. I would pump higher and higher, then lean my head back, close my eyes and let myself slowly swing back to still. It was the closest I could come to what I thought flying would feel like. It felt like freedom to me. My mind would wander in those moments; I would imagine flitting through clouds and treetops. Into adolescence, if I was near a swing, I swung, and I loved it.
Sunshine, like me, loves the swing, as did her brothers before her. At Woody's baseball games, we spend most of the innings with me pushing her on the playground near the field while Sunshine exclaims, "Higher!" If I can sneak in a turn, I will, but mostly I'm swing support. That's okay. It's her childhood, her turn. At least until it's the next little girl's turn. There's always a line for the swing.
Calling it a classic toy doesn't get to the core of it: the beauty of a swing is simplicity. No plugs, circuits, or complicated rules. Just wind in your hair and a sense of freedom. It's low-tech in a high-tech world.
with all the highly-designed playgrounds out there made from the latest space-age materials and based on the latest research from over-educated experts, it's telling that old-fashioned recreation is still such a draw. When I see kids' respond to swings -- and slides and monkey bars and see-saws -- I think I need to stop looking for the next big thing and start looking for the last old thing. Stop over-analyzing, I think.
With all the board games and video games and every other recreational opportunity available to them, the swing is a constant draw in our friends' yard. No one can go in or out of that house without a detour to the swing, whether for a swing, a push or just a big, big smile.