The house I live in came equipped with a swing set. The family who had owned the house before I moved in left it behind.
There is not only a swing set and slide, but also a sandbox and fort. It’s really nice, but since my children are grown and on their own, I really do not have any use for it, other than to look at it and remember when my kids were little.
I assembled a rather large swing set with a slide for my daughters.
I remember setting it up in the middle of my yard, which had a lush growth of grass I was very proud of and worked hard to maintain.
I also remembered when the girls started using the swings how they would scrape their feet on the grass to stop their movement. It did not take long before the pristine crop of grass started to wear away and dirt ruts appeared.
I was mortified. I do not know why this seemed like a surprise to me. I’m also not sure why this seemed problematic.
However, it did and I told my daughters to try not to rub their feet on the grass.
This was idiotic of me, of course, because that does not work, especially when you have short legs and no concern at all for what the ground under the swings looks like.
I remember going out at night and sprinkling grass seed in the bare spots, covering it with a fine layer of dirt and sprinkling the ground to get the grass to grow again.
The next day, the girls would be out and playing on the swing set and re-growing grass was impossible.
My wife told me to let it go. She said someday when the girls were grown and not using the swings any more I would be sad.
She was right. Eventually the day came when they were too old to swing. The grass started growing and filling in the ruts as they left for college. I was devastated.
I would have given anything for them to be little and digging up my lawn. However, there was no going back.
Now, I am living in a house with a huge yard and the above-mentioned swing set and there is no activity.
Well, I shouldn’t say any activity. I do have three dogs that do their fair share of damage to the lawn — it’s just not on the swing set. In addition, the mess the dogs leave behind is not quite as pleasant as a few ruts made by tiny tennis-shoe-clad feet.
There aren’t any grandchildren yet in my life to play in the sandbox, slide down the slide or swing merrily and dig up the grass. I wish there were. Someday, if I’m lucky enough to have grandchildren, I will be out there with them imploring them to do as much feet dragging as possible.
However, until that time, I will just remember how simple lessons are learned.