Reflections: The Swing

imgres-5No sooner had I settled into my lawn chair, lathered myself up with suntan lotion and arranged my iced tea beside me when I felt “it”. A pair of small hands cupped gently around my ear and a quiet little whisper, “Will you plee-eeze  push me on the swing?”  I opened one eye and there she stood – my blond, curly-haired granddaughter. She had her head cocked sideways and was squinting in the bright sun with the most pitiful expression. “I don’t know how to pump yet, and I really want to swing.”   It only took a second for that sweet little face to bring up a plethora of memories in me.  We walked hand-in-hand to the tire swing hanging in our big backyard tree and as I pushed her I allowed my mind to wander back many long years.

My mama was busy in the kitchen and had sent me outside with orders to “keep myself busy”.  Even though the sun was blistering hot, I didn’t want to run through the sprinkler with my sisters.  I cautiously snuck back through the back screen door, making sure it didn’t slam, and sidled up to mama. “Will you plee-eeze push me on the swing?  I don’t know how to pump yet, and I really want to swing.”  I had my curly little head cocked to one side, with what was surely a pitiful expression. Mama looked down at me, dried her hands on a towel, took my little hand in hers, and walked me out to our big oak tree. I climbed up into the tire swing and was soon sailing through the air.  Just when I thought that this was the absolute best experience ever, my mama did the most extraordinary thing!  I heard these magical words…

“How do you like to go up in a swing,

 Up in the air so blue?

 Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing

 Ever a child can do!”


She went on to quote the entire poem by Robert Louis Stevenson that day and each time I went swinging. As a result I memorized that lovely poem.

Watching my granddaughter sail through the air on our tire swing, I began saying the magical words to her…  “How do you like to go up in a swing”…

Porch swings, playground swings, swinging your child on your leg or in your arms – all provide opportunity to share the rich verses of Stevenson’s timeless poem.  It’s never too early to enjoy poetry with your child(ren).

This month is all about poetry.  We hope you will be inspired to share classic poems as a family by following Fireflies this month.

Mary Byrne Kline

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