I swear, kids should come with more detailed instructions.
I got out of work early today and met my friend at a park near her house (her town's facilities are so much nicer than the old-tennis-ball-tied-to-a-pole plaything in my town). There were little swings there—the kind with the holes for the legs—and I thought, "Hooray, Junior can swing!"
Then I thought, "Shit. Is Junior too little to swing? He’s almost a year but what if someone sees me putting my baby in the swing and calls DCF because the swings are meant for toddlers and here I am sticking my helpless child in the Jaws of Death?"
My friend, also being a first-time parent (but to a five-month-old), didn't know about swinging etiquette either. We actually looked on the bottom of the swing for age guidelines but—shocking—there were none.
Finally, we agreed that it was probably fine (the whole exchange took about 15 minutes; I've never felt so sketchy standing in front of a swing in my life).
So I took a deep breath and stuck Junior in the swing. And gave him a feeble push. And yes, I waited for someone to shout, "Are you freakin crazy putting a baby in that swing? You shouldn’t be a parent!"
Then another mother came along. She casually plopped her baby in a swing and then turned her attention to her toddler, who was eating the sand next to the swing set.
“Christ, Billy. No!”
She looked at me and my friend. What a pair we were: my friend clutching her baby, who was covered from head to toe so as to avoid any exposure to the sun—and sweating his miniscule nuts off—and me, hovering over Junior as he waited for the slightest breeze to add some excitement to his swinging (hell, I didn’t know how high I should push him! What if he got a stomach ache from swinging too high?)
She smiled. I had to ask.
“Um, when can you put babies in swings?”
“Whenever you want. I mean, as long as they can hold their heads up.”
I did the math. Poor Junior could have been swinging his heart out from age six months! All that missed swinging!
My friend shrugged her shoulders.
“Your kid’s fine,” she told me. Then she looked at me like I was a nutcase.
Freakish or not, I learned a valuable lesson today. And I do think someone should put together some kind of manual. If they don’t, Junior may be 55 before he tries the monkey bars.
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