The Swing

Since she was old enough to hold her head up, my daughter has loved to swing in our backyard. We have two swings. One is pink and more suitable for toddlers and the other is a green swing for big kids and free-wheelin adults.


Pushing her on the swing is one of the most consistent activities we share together. No matter the season, swinging is always the answer when I ask what she wants to do. She prefers I push her from the back because she can swing higher and she isn’t interested in small talk. It’s definitely been “our thing” and even though I would rather be pitching to her or playing freeze tag or a poor-man’s version of soccer, I’m happy to stand behind her and send her up into the sky. Listening to her laugh as though it was the first time every time.


Tonight, after dinner it was getting dark and it was almost time for bed when my wife said “it’s pretty nice outside.” We went to sit on the deck that overlooks the backyard where the playground is. My daughter insisted on playing in the yard, but Tera warned her of the chiggers and asked her to get her shoes. If she wanted to play in the grass that was OK but no one was going to swing her because it was getting late and Tera and I just wanted to relax on the deck for a few minutes before the going-to-bed activities commenced.

Tera held our restless newborn, Myles, and said in her baby voice “Why don’t you show your dad you can be awake and not cry?”


I heard Makenna’s voice in the distance shouting something to us. Something inaudible and easy to tune out on the first pass. With a three old, shouting and pronouncing your thoughts at the top of your lungs is quite common. For instance, at the pool a few hours earlier she yelled over and over “Hey friends- wanna see me jump?” to a pair of perplexed nine year old twins. Turns out the DID want to see her jump.


But after a few beats, her voice got louder and more excited and I could hear her saying “Look at me, look at me. I’m doing it all by myself.” And as I turned around in my chair I looked back and saw her soaring in the air on her own. She finally pieced together the full swinging sequence–the push and pull dance that frustrated her for so long. She yelled “Aren’t you guys proud of me?” as she flew through the night, and we yelled “Yes! You are doing awesome.”


And as I watched in amazement as she propelled herself back and forth, I realized that the days of her hanging on my shirt and asking me to swing her might soon be over. The newness of doing of it on her own would take over, and she and I would have to find another shared activity to take it’s place. Like an episode of The Wonder Years, I drifted off, watching the reel-to-reel project images of every time I swung her. From the early days on the pink swing until she graduated to the big kid swing. I was turning into a sniveling mess. My wife looked up in bewilderment and said “Are you crying?”




I turned around and smiled and said “That’s our thing!” And the quiet moment was interrupted by Makenna screaming to whoever would listen, “I’m going so much higher than you!”


And as it got even darker and the hour of her bedtime rolled past, I knew I didn’t want to be the one to break up the fun. I was happy to let her swing until she was ready to call it quits. And when she finally got tired, she jumped off and said “I’m going to do that again tomorrow!” I met her at the top of the deck and squeezed her and told her how proud I was of her. She hugged me tight but didn’t quite give me a straight answer when I asked if I could still swing her sometime.

1 comment

Kim McBride


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