My three year-old daughter, Grace, has really been into going on swings lately. I think she likes the chance to be able to kick me with both feet at the same time. We happen to live directly across the street from a park. The park has two swings, but they are both rubber bucket swings. You know, the type designed to prevent babies from falling.
These buckets swings are impossible to get in or out of by oneself, which makes sense as these were designed for babies. One must be lifted in or out while staying relaxed so that each limbs can slip right into place.
Grace is no baby (she’ll tell you so herself), so getting her in and out of one of these contraptions is probably the most physically strenuous part of my day. If one of those little waffle stompers of hers doesn’t thread the needle on the way in, or the sticky, rubber toe of her shoe catches on the way out, panic sets in immediately.
This scenario looks something like this: Grace is half in, half out. I cannot set her down anywhere because she’s caught in this toddler bear trap. I am stuck holding her in my outstretched arms, pleading for her to “please, stop wiggling!” My back is about to break as she thrashes, kicking the swing into my gut. It’s a nightmare!
These last couple weeks we have gotten it down pretty good, though. I start with a deep breathe, Grace stands in front of the swing facing me, I bend at my knees and gently place my hands under her arm pits. I exhale and say, “jump!” Engaging my core, we rise. Grace points her toes as she lowers into the swing. We get those legs in the holes like they are tweezers in a game of Operation. Coming out of the swing is always a bit harder but the principles stay the same: communication, core engagement, breathing, and rhythm.
Although we are on the road to becoming bucket swing masters, I think a tree swing may be appearing in our yard in the near future.