Tuesday, May 5, 2015


It’s a tire swing: rubber, rope, and physics. Okay, it’s a tire swing cleverly designed to look like a rubbery horse swinging from a tree branch. It’s cute. It’s clever. It’s intended to suck in credit card wielding grandmothers like a snake swallowing frogs. It works.

I bought one.

I made the Poppy hang it in the big tree out back. He did. We waited for grandchildren to arrive and be dazzled.

They’re dazzled all right, but mostly, the toddler-aged swingers just throw themselves in the dirt and scream their guts out while waiting their turn because of two fatal flaws. 

The rubber horse swing only fits one chubby toddler at a time. You can jam two of them on if you squish them in tight, and they’re feeling magnanimous, but it swings higher and faster if THEY TAKE TURNS.

The other fatal flaw? A collection of exhausted parents who tend to collapse into lawn chairs, slipping into partial comas—in my backyard, under the live oak, assembled in a circle, on the weekends. They’re a real sedentary bunch.

Not long ago . . .

Parents vegetated. Children demanded. The horse swing sat idle. Parents ignored. Children grew shriller. The horse swing beckoned. Someone cursed. Children lined up. The horse swing twirled. Parents pushed. Kid shrieked with joy—one, single kid shrieked with joy. Many others screamed with impatient rage, thrashing in the dirt and worms.

Lazy adult shouted, “I’m cutting that swing down. Somebody give me a knife. Anybody.”

“The swing stays,” I shouted back.

The swing swayed back and forth.

“But that devil swing is the epicenter of all things temper tantrum. I hate that horrible thing. Let’s burn it down.”

“The swing stays,” I insisted.

Toddlers rolled and kicked and moaned, while the lucky swinger giggled. 

Other parental types picked up pitchforks and torches and howled, “Let’s get it.”

I threw myself into the path of the rampaging villagers.

“Chop the tree down,” they foamed. “Dig up the stump. Kill all its roots. Sow the acres with salt. Arrrrrggg.”

“It’s not the horse swing’s fault, you dolts, or the tree or the stump or the acorn that made the tree. TEACH YOUR CHILDREN HOW TO WAIT THEIR TURN AND SHARE. THE SWING STAYS.”

It was a good speech. No one argued. 

The swing stayed.

Sooner or later they’ll learn, I thought. The parents, I mean; they’ll learn. 

Swing now. Naps later. And before you can blink that swing will hang lonely and forgotten, and we’ll want the babies back. 

Linda (Charge It) Zern 

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