“It’s mine… my own… my precious.”
Growing up, my family couldn’t afford day camps or excursions to various attractions like zoos or amusement parks. So we kids got creative in amusing ourselves at home during the summer: science experiments, inventive games, make-shift forts, you name it. But one thing that each of us desperately wanted with all our little hearts, the one thing we could never make alone (without parental supervision): a swing.
Swings are the epitome of backyard merriment. If you have a swing, you can do it all – soar in to rescue an imaginary furry creature, pull items up in a basket to your tree dwelling, and, of course, just swing.
But alas, fate worked against our goal. Dad was at work during the day, mom was always busy with painting or housework inside, and we were too little to make a swing ourselves without parental approval. But we wanted a swing.
So we scrounged up some swing-making supplies – a wimpy piece of fence board, an over-used green jump rope, and a strong, open branch at just the right height – and plead for permission to make our swing. After surveying our branch and materials and making sure it was safe, my mother gave the “ok” and we joyfully went to work. The time had come!
Eventually, our masterpiece was complete. Oh, it truly was a wonderful sight to behold. Beauty incarnate.
We immediately began using our contraption, and it was glorious. The euphoric sensation of the wind blowing through our hair as we swung back and forth was something that filled our little hearts with joy. Sure, the local park had better equipment, but the fact that we had created the rickety thing ourselves somehow made swinging so much more enjoyable than any swing made out of rubber and chains.
Going out and playing on the swing was now a daily activity. We all coveted our turn – intensely and religiously keeping time to ensure equal opportunity. There were three of us after all – my two brothers and I (Ashley was too mature and bookish for such things). When one person’s time expired, the other two would hound the swinger until he relinquished his claim upon our mutual invention.
So great was our desire to use the swing that arguments frequently broke out over who came next and who had first turn. At this point, mom would call out reprimands from her window, warning us that she would revoke our swing privileges if fights continued. From then on, we made sure to whisper threats to one another so that mom wouldn’t hear.
But the fights became more frequent. This swing did something to us. Whenever we entered its presence, we turned into angry, envious, and selfish little beasts. The swing’s humble appearance was deceptive. It dangled there innocently, but in reality, it had a malevolent power. It made us say things… do things…
I shudder at the thought.
‘Twas the midst of summer, 2003. One day, Landon and I were the only kids at home. As was our daily ritual, we went out into the yard to play on our wonderful swing. Oh, but it would turn out to be a treacherous fiend that day.
Landon guilted me into letting him swing first. As he swang back and forth in front of me, flaunting the beautiful swing that I created, I soon grew tired of watching and waiting. I informed Landon that I was going to go inside for some water. When I came back, it would be my turn to swing.
Too distracted by his merriment to notice, Landon yelled out, “Yeah sure,” and continued playing. I huffed my way inside, drank some water, and returned to the backyard. As soon as Landon heard my footsteps, he whined to let him have a few more minutes.
I reluctantly agreed on the condition that Landon allow me a long turn as well. After about 27 years of waiting (to my 8-year-old mind), I called out that time was up. My demands made Landon pretty upset, but he sullenly left the swing and flopped on the grass.
Triumphant, I took my rightful place on the swing, relishing in the rush of the wind. I was, at last, the Lord of the Swing!
But the evil power of the swing leached into my mind and made me say something that I would soon regret. I snidely reminded my five-year-old brother that I was taking a long turn just like he did. I suppose Landon didn’t understand, or maybe the pernicious venom of the swing had gotten to him too, because he became red in the face and spat out, “That’s not fair!”
I was a little shocked. I mean, I was being a jerk by rubbing salt in his wound, but I didn’t expect him to be irrational.
“No, dude, it makes sense. You take a long turn, I take a long turn. It’s fair.”
He bounded to his feet and yelled, “That’s not fair!” his tears turning into a stern scowl.
“Yes, it is!” I shouted back. He wasn’t going to win this one. Nothing was going to make me leave my precious swing.
Well, nothing except the small cinder block on the ground in front of Landon.
I knew what Landon was going to do before he even reached down to pick up the block. I realized it would have been smart to get off the swing, but the influence of the swing was too strong, and I oh-so-brilliantly remained seated. Bad life choice.
The flying cinder block met its target – my head. My crying instantly snapped Landon out of his trance. You could see the horror in his little face at what he had done. But I just got hit with a rock, and mom was going to hear about it. As I ran to the house crying, he ran after me, yelling, “I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I’m sorry!”
Mom heard the weeping and wailing and came to meet us. Witnessing the unending flow of blood, she took me to the emergency room and I got my head stapled. Landon received several pep-talks from my mom, the doctor, my dad, and my mom again, and then he got his swing privileges removed. Which meant I was THE Lord of the Swing.
Now, you’d think that having the swing to myself would be lots of fun, but as I sat slumped on the swing in our empty backyard, I realized being Lord of the Swing wasn’t fun at all. I was alone, and it was the swing’s fault. I think this is what it had planned all along – the evil temptress!
So I left the yard and went inside to play with my brothers. That was way more fun than a stupid swing anyway.
Later on, we would remove the sinister thing and replace it with 4 awesome swings made by my mom and dad – one swing for each of us. No one fought over turns anymore and peace in the backyard returned. These new swings would entertain us for many years to come, but we ultimately just loved spending time together. And no swing was ever going to change that.
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