Monday, August 25, 2014

Just Give It a Try

Hold on and lean forward, feet tucked below the seat as you sail back and up. There’s a split second pause at the top of your arc. That’s when you lean back and stretch out your legs, face tilted to the sky for that stomach lurching swoop with the wind ruffling your hair and your mouth open wide in an involuntary grin. Just for that moment it feels like flying. I’d forgotten how much fun a swing could be.

I was on a visit to my son Jason’s family in Ottawa. We’d taken my granddaughter Evaine to the park and no one else was around. Jason was pushing her on the kiddie swing so I decided to sit on the big swing to wait. She’d likely want to move on to something else in a moment or two. Muscle memory is a marvelous thing. Without any conscious thought at all I found myself automatically pushing off, legs working back and forth in the pumping action I’d learned as a child. Higher and higher until I imagined my outstretched toes would touch the clouds. I haven’t done that in years and now I wonder why. It was great!

When we got back to the house Jason brought in a couple of gigantic mats that he’d salvaged from the climbing gym. He set them up in the basement for me to use as a bed. They were about eight inches thick and the two of them together made a bed about eight feet square. My husband was due to arrive in a couple of days so he wanted us to have plenty of room. The whole family could have slept on that makeshift bed but in the meantime it made a great spot for jumping and Evaine was bouncing up and down and flopping onto her back with gleeful abandon.

Eventually she tired of the game and I was left alone to set up my sleeping space. I stood there for a moment looking at that enormous spongy expanse before sitting on it and giving it an experimental bounce or two of my own. I had an outrageous impulse and shook my head as though to dislodge it. It was too ridiculous. I think my earlier experience with the swing must have dislodged my common sense. I told myself I should act my age. On the other hand, no one was there to see me. Why not just give it a try? What was the harm?

 I checked the stairs to make sure I really was alone before returning to the mat and furtively getting into the correct position for what I wanted to attempt. A moment later I lay sprawled on my back trying to stifle the giggles that threatened to erupt. I confess it now. I, Robin Livingston, 57 year old grandmother of eight, did a somersault when no one was looking. In fact I did two.

I don’t know what got into me but somehow, when I am around my grandchildren I remember what it was like to be a child myself. I end up doing some pretty strange things. That didn’t happen when my own children were small. Too much responsibility I suppose. If you don’t have grandchildren of your own maybe you should borrow some. They will help you to remember that it’s fun to play.
Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles @