Lessons from the Swingset

Posted on | January 28, 2013 | 4 Comments

On Saturday afternoon, I tucked my seriously cranky child into his carseat and drove the short distance to an in town playground.  It sits out on a good bit of property so it’s a great place to go run off three year old frustration… if the playground isn’t enough, there’s the walk to the pond, or a flat field to charge through.

We got there before his friends arrived and he had a few minutes of running around before he did what he always does when waiting for playmates… he asked me to push him in the swing. After a few moments, another little boy wandered up, pointing to the swing next to J.  He was older, though I’m unsure how old he was.  He couldn’t speak, at least not in words I recognized, but his joyful noises as he pointed to the swing were easily interpreted.  His father lifted him up and buckled him snugly into the seat beside J and began to push him up into the air.

I worriedt that J would point and say something about the boy beside him, worried he would yell out about the difference, the noises he was making or the way he moved.  I worried that I’d have to apologize or redirect, or blush crimson with embarrassment over something he might say about or to the boy or his father.  I felt anxiety building in me, the wonder and fear and need to pre-apologize.

As focused as I was on the boy beside us and the noises he made as his father pushed him higher and higher, my son was even more focused.  I watched J’s head turn towards the boy after one particularly loud expression of joy and I froze, ready to explain it away… ready to intervene… ready to apologize.

“Swings are so much fun!” J announced, watching the boy beside him fly through the air.  He knew without asking me anything, without saying anything, that the boy beside him wouldn’t respond but he talked to him anyway, echoing the joy that shone from the sweet face beside him.  J kept up a running commentary, as if the sounds from his new friend were normal and everyday… as if they were having a conversation, even without words… because they were.  They were communicating in the universal language of children… the gleeful joy at soaring through the air from the safety of a swing. After a while, J’s friends arrived at the playground and we left the swings behind, but not before J waved goodbye to the boy beside him.  As we walked away, he looked up at me and smiled.

“He was having a really good time, just like me.”

I nodded and realized, not for the first time, that I still have so much to learn from my small son.


4 Responses to “Lessons from the Swingset”

  1. Jennifer Hall
    January 28th, 2013 @ 9:28 am

    I have witnessed chidren who didn’t speak the same language play beautifully together in my classroom. It was so heartwarming and inspiring. 🙂

  2. Law Momma
    January 28th, 2013 @ 9:43 am

    It really is. They don’t see color, religion, or any other differences… they just see friends.

  3. Caroline
    January 28th, 2013 @ 10:18 am

    This made me cry. As a mom with a boy who struggles to speak, I always worry about him when he plays with other children. This confirms that kids don’t notice those differences.

  4. Law Momma
    January 28th, 2013 @ 10:23 am

    They totally don’t notice it at all. Wouldn’t it be great if we were ALL like that?

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    Spilled Milk (and Other Atrocities) by Law Momma is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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