Finding the Joy of Swinging
We all have them—parenting strengths and weaknesses—whether we admit them or not. There just happens to be some things we are inherently good at when it comes to parenting and some things, well, that we must have been absent for the day they passed out parenting skills at school. Oh wait, they don’t teach those types of things at school, do they? Well at least not in an official predetermined class or anything, but I believe we’ve been reading between the lines almost our entire lives soaking up our maternal/paternal instincts and defining our unique parenting styles.
The true challenge for us, as parents, is to come to terms with the areas we’re weakest in and devote some time and effort into improving them. For me, this particular time, my weakness is on the playground. It seems, somehow, I failed to teach my children to swing. I can’t tell you the exact moment when I missed my window or even why this has become an issue for us at all, but it has. You see, neither my two-or my four-year-old have a desire to swing. Occasionally, I manage to get them on the swings, I gently push them—ever so slightly—and with one or two pushes they quickly blurt, “I’m all done Mom, I’m all done.” And that’s it. Our swing experience is over and they’re off—onto something else.
I’m working on myself a lot this year—being a better Mother included and I’ve decided, 2010 will be the year my children learn to love to swing. I watch from a distance admiring the relationships of other parents and their children as they move back and forth in a rhythm that exudes a personal connection—a secret they both share—about the joy of swinging.
I’ve started already—choosing to experiment with my middle child (age two) first. We make our way to the swings as the afternoon sun is still high enough to warm our faces. I place her in the harness, start singing a favorite song of hers and follow her with my body as I push. To my surprise, this time she’s feeling it too. She allows me to push her like this for some time before declaring, “I’m all done Mom, I’m all done.
Day 2: Today, I suggest we try the swings again—my daughter is a little more cuddly after nap time and enjoys being close to me a little longer than usual (love this time of day). So she agrees and we bebop on over to the swings. Again, I start off by pushing her following with my body, but today I substitute the words of her favorite song with her name and a few catchy jingles related to swinging. Success! She loves it. It turns out she’s also more confident with swinging if she can hold my hand while we do it. We spend at least ten minutes continuing in this manner, singing, swinging, and holding hands (we’re cute, I know). I’m happy, feeling as if I am finally beginning to understand the swing connection between a parent and a child.
Day 3: This morning, we stopped by a local park to let her burn off some energy. They have several swings there but very rarely do my children even notice them—and if they do, they prefer to use them for flying [lying on the swing instead of sitting, arms flailing, feet dangling]. We play on every play structure, every slide and check out everything else but eventually, she suggests, “Mom, can we swing?” (rejoicing on the inside) I plop her in the swing, this time … she begins to sing, we continue on like this for a very long time.
I see a light at the end of the tunnel, I’m feeling confident I can conquer this parenting weakness, until a father and son sit on a swing next to us and begin to swing. Higher and higher they go, the boy laughing all they way. Turns out, I still have a long way to go before my children learn all there is to enjoy about swinging, but the important thing is we’re on our way And we’re ALL feeling better already.
Do you feel like a failure when it comes to a common part of parenting? Getting kids to bed, choosing healthy snacks, finding alternatives to TV … if there’s something you feel like you could be doing ten times better, rest assured, you’re not alone. You’re just normal.