Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Swing Set Ate Our Backyard

Several weeks ago we took the girls to a store near us called Wood Kingdom, an enormous place that sells wood swing sets and assorted other backyard toys and childhood accessories. Our mission was to find a new and better swing set to replace the one we left at our previous house, and we had some specific features in mind. We wanted at least two swings, a slide, a glider, and a rock climbing wall. While the girls were inside the store running around they started fighting with each other and kids they had never met over a kind of hanging pogo stick contraption, something called an Air-Pogo, so we decided to get one of those as well.

Add swing sets to the long and continually expanding list of things that have gotten better and more advanced – almost unrecognizably so – since we were kids. When I was growing up we had a swing set in our backyard, three brittle swings and a small slide supported by a frame of metal tubes and poles my father put together with a ratchet set. Considered state-of-the-art for its day, my childhood plaything never would have gotten through the door at Wood Kingdom.

This Saturday morning fact-finding mission was in anticipation of the arrival of our Insta-Lawn (see previous post on this), which at that point was due in a couple of weeks. But after this perfect grass came into our lives, Gwen and I found ourselves staring out the window, taking in the beautiful and unspoiled green-ness, and wondering the same thing: “How are we going to disrupt this pristine vision, crowd our limited backyard AND kill some of the sod that just took a bite out of our bank account by jamming a massive swing set out there?”

So, shamefully, we dragged our feet on actually ordering the wood monstrosity, denied our children the plaything we had promised, and continued to enjoy the view off the back of the house. Silence was golden, for a while, until Ava started making occasional but heartfelt references to the swings that had not yet come into her life.

The watershed moment for me came a few nights ago, when we were reading one of her favorite books, “Angelina Ballerina’s Shapes,” before she went to bed. We got about two-thirds of the way through the book and then we hit the second triangle page, which featured an image of Angelina and one of her friends flying through the air on swings and the words, “The legs of the swing set are tall triangles.” Ava took a look at the page and said, wistfully, more to herself than to me, “I wish we had one of those.”

I asked her what she meant, just to hear the elaboration, and she pointed at the image in the book, “a swing set, right there, I wish we had swings at our house.”

That pretty much sealed the deal for me. I took the opportunity the next day to ask Madison about this, to make sure she shared Ava’s enthusiasm, and she gave me a response that reflected the two years she has on her sister and was also trademark Madison.

“Maddie, do you still want us to get a swing set for the backyard?”


“A swing set, do you still want us to buy one for the backyard?”

“We did already, didn’t we? We went to the store and picked one out. I thought we were just waiting for them to bring it.”

“Well, we looked at them but we didn’t actually buy one yet, we need to go back and do that.”

“Oh. I was wondering what was taking them so long.”

We were back in Wood Kingdom the following weekend placing our order, and the set arrived today along with three "better you than me" assemblers.

[Delivery and professional installation: dollar-for-dollar the best money you will ever spend in your life.]

Insta-Lawn, we’re sorry.

Girls, you’re welcome.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Adorable ; )

5:36 PM  

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