Pumping on the swing

I don’t know if we’ll get to keep it, but for the time being at least, it feels like Spring has arrived in Vienna.  The days are getting longer, and since last Thursday, the temperatures have been warm and it’s been sunny most of the time.  It’s wonderful, and I’ve been making a point of getting the boys outside to play after a long winter of lots of indoor playtime.

Thursday, we went out for a walk (well, I was walking, the kids were in the double stroller).  We’ve been keeping up fairly well with our running over the past few months, and we almost always take the same route — which is the same route I used to take when walking with the kids last fall.  But, since we’re doing that path 3 times a week, it’s gotten pretty predictable.  That’s fine for running (it’s kind of nice to be able to turn off our brains) but it wasn’t enticing for our first spring-like walk — I wanted something new.  So, we walked down to the Donau Canal and walked the opposite direction from the way that we know well.

We walked for a while, and just as I was contemplating turning around to head back, Benjamin excitedly pointed out a playground up ahead.  We went to check it out.  I’m out of practice with managing both boys once they’ve been turned loose on a playground, and I’m completely inexperienced in it with Liam as thoroughly mobile as he is now.  They run in opposite directions, but there’s only one of me.  My time at the park was largely spent evaluating which child was in more dire peril and running after him.  There was also a lot of setting (and then enforcing) boundaries.  As much as possible, I tried to encourage them to play in the same area, but that was only moderately successful.  Mostly, Liam just wanted to climb over the low barriers separating one section of the playground from another (to keep the wood chips contained, I assume).  He would “jump” (climb) over the divider, and then turn around, make sure we were watching, clap for himself and say, “Great!”  (He’s obviously been absorbing all of the positive reinforcement he’s been getting.)

Luckily, Benjamin was really enjoying the swing, which meant that he, at least, was content to be confined for several minutes at a time.  Of course, he still required supervision, and pushing.  I alternated between running to corral and collect Liam and then returning to give Benjamin another “big push” on the swing.  After one particularly long Liam chase-down, I hurried back, expecting to see Benjamin waiting impatiently for his next push . . . and I realized he didn’t need one.  He was pumping the swing on his own.

Wow!  I was surprised and impressed, and I told him so.  He showed me (and explained) just what he was doing — feet out, feet in, lean back, lean foward, right in rhythm with the motion of the swing.  He really had it!  He had trouble keeping it up for more than a few iterations (he’d get out of sync) but he was doing it on his own.  After clapping and cheering for him (and enjoying his very proud smile), I asked him where he learned to do it — I assumed at school (they have swings there), but he said, “Mommy, you taught me!”

We did work on that a few times last fall, and the one or two times we got to the park over the winter.  He didn’t seem very interested in it, and I didn’t see him try it more than a few times.  I didn’t push it (ha ha) – I just introduced the idea and left it alone.  But I guess it sank in.

That’s awesome.  I taught him that.  He’ll have that skill forever.  That’s pretty darn cool.

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