One thing in my childhood that set me apart from the other kids was the swing. I did swing like my siblings and neighborhood kids. But when I was on the swing, my mind was far from the swing set. Far from the backyard or playground. I was swinging in my make-believe world with a cast of characters under my direction. I was both the director and the star of the story. The more exciting the story, the higher I swung. It’s a wonder I didn’t swing high enough to knock the swing set off the ground.
The “swing” memories came flooding back to me at the school playground where I was subbing for a Physical Education (P.E.) assistant for a couple of weeks. This was a school I didn’t have as much a subbing history with as other schools. I had only subbed in their gym and not in any of their classrooms.
As I was watching the 2nd graders on the playground, I saw a boy sitting on the swing who wasn’t swinging. He noticed me watching him and asked me to push him. I suspected he might be a special education student since most 2nd graders can push themselves. I did my part and pushed him for what seemed like a good half hour; although it was probably half that. He reminded me of myself at his age because he was an escape artist too. If I understood what he was saying to himself, he was pretending to be on an airplane. He was having such a good time that I kept on pushing even though my arm was aching for me to quit.
Another child came up and said it was his turn. This gave me an excuse to give my arm a rest. The boy knew the other child and gladly gave up his seat. I suspected maybe they were in the same class and I was right. The other boy needed a push too. Oh, dear, I couldn’t refuse. I’m particularly biased when it comes to special ed children. And these two boys and I had something in common – the autism spectrum. I realize this when the aide in the autism unit came up and assisted me with the two boys.
I don’t deny I wasn’t glad when the coach blew the whistle and I was relieved from swinging duty. However, I wasn’t at all sorry about my arm getting a work-out. They were doing what I did when I was on the swing at their age. The only difference was I didn’t need someone to give me a push. If I had, I would have hoped someone would have come along and given me a push. That’s why I pushed at their request so they could both swing high.