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Girls Get A Swing Set

We’re officially suburbanites now:
we’ve got a backyard swing set.

I’m not sure who was looking forward to it more - Maddie, or
Daddy. He’s one of those good guys whose dream of
“making it” is being able to provide each kid with her
own room, a back yard to play in, and a swing set to while away the
hours. So with the arrival of the swing set last week, Brian is
officially living his dream life. (Though if I’m being
totally honest, there’d probably be a big screen t.v.
somewhere in his dream house, too – sorry, honey. So close to
your dream life, yet so far.)

I’d done my research online, finding
a good swing set company that makes their sets with a long
warranty, an excellent safety record, and using all second-harvest
or sustainable-growth lumber. We’d found a nearby dealer and
gone one Saturday for a test drive, Maddie climbing all over the
floor models and quickly making her preferences clear. We’d
drawn up the plans and saved them in the store computer.

All that was left was the funding – our tax return. For
almost two weeks we sat and waited impatiently for the direct
deposit to show up; then one Friday I called the bank, saw the tax
return, and ten minutes later our swing set was ordered, with a
Monday delivery and set-up promised. All weekend I kept my mouth
shut, nearly blurting the news out to Maddie several times but
censoring just in time. I wanted to capture the surprise, the joy
on her face, when she saw a swing set in her very own back yard!

Monday afternoon showed up, and I had all the blinds drawn to keep
Maddie from seeing out. The assembly man arrived right before
naptime, and I whisperingly directed him towards the back yard.
I’m pretty sure he tiptoed around the whole time, since
Madeleine never had a clue someone was out there. Brian got off
work a bit early so he could see Maddie discover the swing set when
she woke up from her nap.

When Maddie walked into the living room and saw the big set out the
window, she blinked. Twice. A huge smile spread across her face,
and she pointed wordlessly. “Would you like to go
outside?” I asked. She grinned a huge yes.

And she hasn’t come inside since then.

I’m telling you, that girl’s in love with the swing
set. She keeps talking about how we have a park in our very own
back yard! It’s got a trapeze, a slide, a baby swing for
Cora, a tree house, and a picnic table under the treehouse. We
bring most lunches out there, eating in the cool spring breeze, and
we’ve spent four hours at a stretch playing outside,
climbing, swinging, chasing, or silently hanging out. I knew my
kiddo would love it, but here’s the big surprise:

Cora loves it just as much.

Cora’s never had much chance to explore the playground at our
park; the ground is all wood chips and Cora’s more interested
in eating them than climbing a slide. But in our own back yard,
Cora’s happy to crawl over the grass, walk along the slide,
swing in the baby swing, play in the fort – pretty much
anything Maddie does, Cora wants to do.

At first I thought Cora was simply along for the ride- where Mommy
goes, Cora has to go, after all. But I began to notice that every
time I opened the door to the back yard, Cora would begin pointing
and straining towards the open door. And every time we were outside
and I’d move to go in, Cora would start crying and trying to
throw herself to the ground. I finally figured it out: I’ve
got a second playground addict.

They’ve got two favorite places to be: the first is in the
fort, where Cora can hold onto the wooden sides and walk around
with impunity while Maddie “steers” the ship, makes up
songs, or jumps around. The second and biggest joy, though, is side
by side on the swings. Cora faces one way in her bucket swing as
Maddie faces the other in her “big-girl” swing, and I
push both of them in an easy rhythm. They scream happily, wave at
each other in passing, and fall into their own contented zen

Every day, Maddie asks if she can have a friend over to play on the
swing set with her. She heads outside at least four times a day,
and is content to play by herself in the back yard while Cora and I
get lunch ready or clean up after breakfast. The swing set allows
her some freedom to play outside in a safe environment, to
entertain herself. And when friends are over, it’s teaching
her valuable lessons on how to share, to be a gracious host, to
exhibit kindness and generosity towards others. (“It’s
ok – I’ll let YOU honk the horn first this
time.”) For both girls, it’s healthy,
non-battery-operated play time that encourages their creativity and
lets them be kids.

And for Maddie, the swing set may finally tip the balance between
New York and Texas in our favor; she commented the other day that
we didn’t have a swing set in New York, and we never could
have because our back yard was so tiny there. Then she looked
around and said, “I’m glad we’re here now.”
And ran off, barefoot, to push her sister in the swing.

And that, my friend, is my husband’s dream come true.


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