Our Swing Set Is Coming Down Tomorrow — & It's the End of an Era

It seems like only yesterday I said to my toddler, “If you use the potty, we’ll get a swing set!” My then almost 3-year-old son looked at me with wide eyes as we both imagined the hours of excitement in our future. We’d just moved into our forever home for the sole reason of needing a yard — he wanted to be free. To run. To play ball. And now, to swing.

A gentleman came to set it up on a warm, summer day. We watched him carry wood beams up the hill and drill nails into place. My son was on the swing the moment his work was complete. “This should last a solid ten years,” the man advised. That’s the day it all began.

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From behind, I’d push him on the swing for hours each week. As I looked out at the yard in front of me, the view of little legs gliding through the air was engrained in my mind forever.

My son would climb the rock wall as I spotted him from below. Then he’d coast down the slide, laughing the entire way. “You have to pump your legs,” I’d remind him, cheering him on from the sidelines as he learned to swing. Then, my younger son was born, and I did it all over again with him.

A few times, we had the wood repaired and repainted, ensuring that our swing set was strong enough for growing bodies. Then the pandemic began, and our yard took on a whole new meaning. It was the safety net surrounding our home, and the swing set became part of their daily exercise and adventure. My then 5- and 8-year-olds would log into Zoom, sitting at their computers for hours each day. Swinging released their energy.

When they were old enough, I’d watch from the kitchen window as they swung beside one another, often gliding in rhythm together. Light-saber battles would commence with fallen tree limbs in hand, and the treehouse of our swing set was always home base. It sat upon our hill, the center of their outdoor universe.

As they grew a little older, their interests expanded. They’d go outdoors to practice soccer or play basketball, but before coming in, they’d climb the ladder, drift down the slide, and swing together — even if only for a few minutes.

When it snowed, I’d find them swinging through the brisk air in their snowsuits. As they grew more daring, they’d jump off the moving swing (despite my motherly warnings not to) as children often do. The swing set seemed to adapt to their maturing, and it remained a part of their outdoor routine for years.

Friends would come over and they’d always end up on the swings. When my son had his 12th birthday party in our yard, the swing set was swarming with tweens simply enjoying one another’s vivacious company. There had been a lull in use of the swing set, so seeing so many of them enjoying it together reminded me that this outdoor equipment would always be a part of our lives — and of their childhood.

But they continued to grow, and the swing set weakened from years of love. The wood has begun to soften, and the supporting beams are no longer as strong as they once were. My boys are now 12 and a half and 9 years old, and the swings have sat idle since my older son’s birthday last summer. Now, it’s either time to invest in further maintenance or dispose of our beloved swing set before we find that it can no longer support their weight. “Would you like to keep swinging?” I asked last week, hoping I’d hear an adamant yes. Without much thought, they both said no.

Ten years have passed. I remember the day the swing set went up and we were told it could endure ten years of climbing and swinging. A decade seemed too far away to consider. But the seasons changed, and the years stacked one upon the other more quickly than I could have imagined. Before long, the swings were blowing in the breeze without bodies holding them down.

I don’t know this house without a swing set in the yard. I’m unfamiliar with a life where my boys don’t embark on a quick trip up the hill to our slide. While they haven’t been using it in recent months, seeing it on the hill has kept it alive in my mind — but tomorrow that will change. My photo album is filled with pictures and videos of my boys loving this swing set over the years, and that’s where our memories will stay.

It’s just another way we know our children are getting older. Tomorrow, I’ll look out my kitchen window towards a barren hill. Their childhood will look a little different, but I’ll always remember the day the swings were put into place — and the ten years that followed.

The swing set is where it all began. But I’ve reminded myself that its retirement is just the beginning of a new era. There’s a whole world beyond our yard, and because of years of adventure on our swing set, my boys are ready for everything that comes next.

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