I am unable to recall very much of my childhood and younger days, no matter how hard I try. The vivid ones that remain however, featured time spent at my late grandmother’s house and later apartment, the factory Mum worked in, the neighbourhood I spent much time in when I was living with my Auntie, and playgrounds.
My second Primary School’s playground and the sandy playgrounds in my parents’ neighbourhood were the ones I could still remember very clearly in my mind. I was tall for my age (then) when I was young, and lithe. I was never still; running from one structure to another, climbing up and down, above and below. These playgrounds were where I didn’t follow rules, for once.
I hung upside down by the back of my knees on pull-up bars; and walked on monkey bars meant for swinging across with hands. I climbed on top of anything that held my weight. The playgrounds were where I felt free, and nobody stopped me because I wasn’t noisy. But what I loved most at playgrounds were swings.
The swings were the closest thing to flying for me. I think my Mum pushed me on the swings a fair bit when I was younger, but I couldn’t be sure. The moment my legs were long enough to touch the ground, I played on the swings by myself a lot. The swings were the only playground structures I followed safety rules. I never tried anything funny on the swings.
I always spent some time preparing to play on the swing. Buttocks positioned exactly in the middle of the seat, equilibrium reached. Hands gripped the chains tightly, elbows bent. Once I was ready, I started to shuffle backwards with my feet, my backside firmly in the seat. When I reached as far as I could, I jumped off my feet. Off I went into the air!
I kicked the sand and inched higher into the air. I kicked and kicked and kicked till the swing was at its highest point possible. Then I leaned back with my legs stretched out so my body was parallel to the ground, and I could see the sky above me, like I was flying face up in the sky. I laughed, kicked, swung, and perspired with all the exertion.
But I felt so… happy. I really felt free. I continued playing on the swings even when I started Secondary School. The swing was one place I could be feel free of my teenage woes, for all my energy and focus went into staying planted on the seat, and swinging in the air. As I grew older, I gradually stopped playing on the swings totally for I felt conscious of others watching; a big and heavy girl who was robbing other younger kids of their plaything. And wasn’t she too old to be on the swings anyway?
I got married and moved away from my parents. I forgot about the joy of playing on swings; archived and filed the memory away. The first flat we stayed in didn’t have any swings in the neighbourhood playgrounds, and we seldom bring the kids to play in them anyway. When we moved to our second flat 3 years ago, there are 2 swings in one of the playgrounds!
Since then, I have brought Matthew or mostly Megan to play at the playgrounds once in a while, but never both at the same time. We did play at the swings, but somehow my own memories were not evoked. That was until Wednesday, when I brought both the kids to play at the swings.
Maybe because it was Christmas Day, and the combined laughters of the kids shrieking in the air as I pushed them into the skies one after the other, that finally unlocked the memories I have stored away for years. As I took my turn at the swing, the memories came flooding back. And I laughed at the freedom of being in the sky again. The kids laughed with me as they watched me take to the skies.
Although I was only allowed only a few swings before Matthew dethroned me, it was enough for me. This time, I was happy just to push my kids on the swings.
Happy, carefree kids.
Now, I have the kids to share my happiness of being on the swings, to add to my memories. There really is something magical about swings…