In our backyard we have a little baby swing hanging by yellow rope from our shrimp tree (that’s what my mother-in-law told me it was called because the flowers look like fuzzy pink shrimp, so that’s what I call it). The girls love to swing in it, but I hate putting them in it. It’s pretty high off the ground, and since it moves, it’s a little difficult to get them into. Plus, they argue about how long each one gets to swing, and they would swing for sixteen hours straight and they always throw fits when I tell them it’s time to stop. Samantha can finally reach the swing and wriggle her way onto it after about five minutes of trying, but if she goes into the swing, Ella has to also, and whining and fighting ensue.
A couple days ago, we were in the backyard playing after our afternoon walk. It was sunny, but windy and getting cold as the sun was setting, as it does this time of the year. The girls were up on our second tier, playing around the swing. They wanted to go in it, but I wasn’t in the mood, so they amused themselves, pushing it back and forth on the ground.
Penelope wanted to eat, so I decided to go into the house to feed her. Normally, I would stay outside to watch the older two, but it was cold and I could hear the neighbor boy and his friend playing next door, and they are prone to popping their head unexpectedly over the fence and I wasn’t feeling like giving an anatomy lesson that day. The dog was with them, and I left the sliding door cracked to hear them, so I felt they were pretty safe in our fenced yard, even though my view of them was obstructed by our garage when I went inside.
Shortly after beginning to feed Penny, Samantha came to the door, wanting to come inside. I asked her what Ella was doing. She told me she was swinging. I told her to go play with her sister while I fed Penny, because I couldn’t get up right then to let her in. (Although cracked, the door is too heavy for her to open on her own.) She whined outside the door for the five minutes it took me to feed Penny.
I opened the door, Samantha came in, and I called for Ella to come. She didn’t. Typical for her, she loves to play outside. I carried Penny toward the swing to retrieve Ella. As I mounted the steps between the first and second tiers, I saw the neighbor boy’s head popped up over the fence, with Missy jumping up at him, her hackles up, snapping awfully close to his nose.
“She’s been up there forever!” he said. “We heard her crying for you and we thought there was something wrong. We’ve been watching her.”
“Thanks,” I said. “I had to feed the baby.”
There was Ella, buckled in the swing, waiting for me to get her down. When questioned, Samantha said she had put Ella up there (apparently, Ella grabbed on and Sam pushed her feet up). I advised her not to do that again, as Ella could fall and get hurt.
“But Mom,” she said, “I buckled her in.”