The swing

I have a secret. Every night after the kids are tucked into bed, I tell the OA that I am going for a walk and I slip out into the dark. And after a few minutes of walking I hit the park and swing. I listen to music on my phone or I call up a friend who doesn’t mind being called that late, and I swing.

It’s not that the swings are off limits to adults (they’ve sturdy and take kids who are heavier than me and also parents who swing with their kids in their laps). It’s just that the swings are busy in the evenings and I am busy in the morning.

Oh what the hell… I guess I just feel foolish swinging at this age, which is why I wait until night falls. The darkness frees me from social constructs of what is age appropriate. As I fly high into the air I find myself free from everything earthly, everything that binds me. The simple motion of bending my legs, kicking, holding tight, bending backwards, moving forward… it calls for you to be conscious of your body. And maybe as adults we forget how to do that.  To put our thoughts away for a while and to be in the here and the now and in the physical body.

On the swing I am taken back to my childhood. To the tyre on the mango tree, the huge swing that seats five, the little wooden planks on chains… My childhood was spent leaping from one to the other.

A few days ago I read a piece on free play, outdoor play and unstructured time. Funny. When I was growing up, we just called it play. When did it take on so many labels? What have we done to our kids with the piano classes and the tennis lessons that makes it necessary for the qualifier – ‘free’ play?

People complain about kids these days. Hell, have we taken the time off to see what kind of parents we are? Our parents were more relaxed, less obsessed with buying a flat before thirty, less stressed about making CEO, less concerned with being the first to say it on twitter and so on.

More and more adults have taken to running, cycling, trekking and so on. We need to get away from our lives precisely because our daily lives are so awful. Our parents could afford to unwind at home because home was a relaxing place. Now with the endless screens and connectivity, and hectic social lives and long work hours it’s no longer a relaxing place.

I got off the swing last night and went for a quick walk around the complex. As I took the corner I saw another mother on the swing. Head thrown back, long hair flying in the breeze, cares thrown to the wind. She saw me coming and slipped off in one quick motion and walked away guiltily. I wanted to tell her I was in on the secret. That I shared her addiction. But the moment passed and I headed home.


18 thoughts on “The swing

  1. I too do it, during my after dinner walk. There are a few people who give that looks, but I just hang on. Some sort of independence it gives, that feeling of flying away. Makes me feel that I am with the air..

  2. Something about swings that make you feel care free n liberated, no? Like as if you can simply fly away into the world and get lost in it?

    I wrote a long comment on the “No Votes for me post” and this is really a continuation of that comment. I struggle to u’stand why our generation’s parents have it so difficult when they put in so much more effort. I think our parents’ parented in so much more of an effortless manner, without all the discussions, questions, judgments that in some ways plague our generation. Doesn’t seem like they sweated over Rights and Wrongs, SAHM vs working mom, free play vs scheduled play( is that the opposite?) , right MM? And we turned out alright. Most of us. Of course I am over-simplifying and generalizing it but to a large part that’s how things are na?

    What then did we do and how did we get to where we are today?

    My sister’s son , (who is 7 months younger than the Brat) really doesn’t like any type of classes. He resists and opposes any classes outside of school hours. He just wants to cycle and play cricket and other games on the streets. Her daughter ( who just turned 5) on the other hand begs to go to classes for drawing, Music, Dance, painting , tai-kwando and maths! My sister asks her to pick 2 and tells her she doesn’t have the money to enroll her in ALL these classes. Talk about being different !

    He doesn’t enjoying doing homework and studying either and that is very different from how sis and I were. Over-time she got tired of arguing with him, scolding him, begging him and left it to his choice to study or not and accordingly face the consequences. I am yet nervous if this is the right approach, but apparently slowly he is asking to do his homework and picking up the books on his own. The poor child even woke up at 5:30 one morning and begged her to help him with studying for a unit test. We worry, is it a right world when a 8 year old is losing sleep over studies? What is the education system doing to children? My sister finds it hard to back off and refuse to comply with the school’s requirements , ‘coz she is not sure what the long term impact of that will be .

    This parenting gig is so hard. So So hard.

    • Very right. It is a tough job. As for why our parents didn’t agonise -I think its because they had no choices, no? We worry about choice because we have that luxury. I’d be wary of a school that makes kids worry over tests but I also think that some kids are hardwired to be stressed out.

  3. Oh god. Yet again you are so me. I do this all the time, at the ripe old age of 40. Plan to carry on for 40 more years.

  4. It’s nice to meet another swing-a-holic. I used to do the same thing until I got my own swing. I used to read your old blog, and came to this one after a long time. I’m glad you’re still writing.

  5. Hi MM,

    Whenever we go to a public park here in the US the first thing me and my daughter head out to are the swings. Usually we both get on to adjacent ones and swing away to glory. It’s so liberating. Actually it’s one of our favourite things to do :).

  6. YES I love swinging too! It’s become something of a joke in my family. I used to go down to the swings every night when I was staying at my old condo. The younger kids actually used to make fun of me.

  7. You know, I was thinking about this the other day – there are just too many screens in our life these days. The TV, the computer, the cellphone, the Kindle, the video games. Though the husband and I are not really addicted to any of these screens (thank God for that!), it still feels too much. There’s just a lot of work to be done on a combination of one or more of these screens that we hardly spend time out of these -just in the outdoors. It is a luxury to spend time outdoors these days, just soaking in nature and being one with the elements. We try to do our best, though. I do want my children to do that, too.

    Beautiful post, MM.

  8. My mom goes out of the house quietly after dinner making some excuse or the other- need milk/eggs yada yada, guess it’s her me time to formulate her thoughts 🙂 she never tells me about her walks and I never ask!

  9. Am picturing you on that swing and my-o-my you look darn cute! keep it on babes. Liked that whole visual you helped us conjure up of carefree-ness and the wind blowing thru the tresses…..Lovely.

    It reminded me that now that V stopped wanting to go on the swings a longish time ago I kinda miss even pushing him on a park swing. Although at the time it was a huge rage in his life my arms would ache from all that pushing:-)

  10. TMM I dont even own a single gadget and I’m the least connected person i know. I dont login after work don’t want to become CEO and yet I complain bitterly about how stupidly busy my life has become. How do I overcome this I don’t know. And don’t say get off the rat race, for I cannot do it right now and indeed I enjoy many parts of my job (most parts, except the commute, and the mandatory 8 hr thing, would love to work 9-3 and be paid the same :p)

    You’re absolutely right in saying that out own homes have become not the haven they should be but buzzing centers of activity. This despite that my kids go to next to no classes. I think I’m doing something starkly wrong or I have very very low tolerance for stress. Most days I want to run away to a tier two city.

    • I don’t know what to say Poppy. I think you should make a list of things that you do in a day that keep you so busy. I know the husband isn’t leading a corporate lifestyle – how does he feel about your life and home? Are you the only one feeling the stress? Lets work this out.
      Love and a big hug

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