There are two types of toddlers in America today – the swingers and the sliders (and the rockers – but they’re weirdos and we won’t talk about them). When you go to the playground, there are climbing apparatuses of varying sizes and comfort levels, which invariably culminate in a slide or two of some sort – and then there are swings, with just swings. These items, by nature of their function, must be separated by space, making you choose a side: are you a swinger or a slider?
Sure, you can visit both, or walk around the wooden perimeter like a balance beam, or even jolt yourself back and forth on one of those clumsy metal rocking frogs, but there is usually one function that dominates your thoughts, much like being a democrat or republican.
Mabel is a slider. Which is great for me. Sliders require much less interaction. They usually climb up the stairs or the rock wall themselves, dance around the little poles, turn the steering wheel attached to nothing, threaten to jump out of the one uncovered hole that the big kids jump out of, and then eventually find their way to a slide and slide down to the bottom, just to run over and do it all again.
Swingers run over to the boring swing set – which only has swings on it – and turn to you and say “up?” because you have to pick them up, fold their legs into the little bucket holes, and stand there and push them until they get bored and say “out,” when you need to unfold their legs, pick them up, and put them back down, so they can run over to the next bucket and do it all again. They need everything done for them. Like little democrats.
Recently, Mabel has stopped sliding. For the last two months, she has become a swinger. The fact that she likes the big girl swings is a small consolation, but I still can’t send the occasional text message or even sit the freak down for a minute. This has been going on for about two months and there is no single event to point to and say “Oh! She probably doesn’t like sliding because of the time she got her hair caught and dangled 7 feet off the ground for 10 minutes.” Nothing like that. Our friend thought it might be because the slide at the local playground tends to shock its victims at the end. She has a point. After all, it is the same philosophy we use to keep dogs in imaginary fences. If I was administered a shock every time I ate a banana, I doubt I would eat too many bananas anymore. But this shock is so minor, I doubt it would keep even the wussiest of Chihuahuas in the yard. So I still have no idea what caused the sudden change.
When I was in high school, I used to have a Tastykake Coffee Cake every night. Literally, EVERY NIGHT. 23 seconds in the microwave with a half glass of milk. I loved those things. The ones with the rabbit turd-looking pellets of sugary awesomeness on top. They kept me centered. Then one day, completely out of the blue, I just couldn’t eat them anymore. I had reached my quota. The thought of a coffee cake sickened me. It’s 20 years later and I haven’t had one since. I fear this is what Mabel is going through. Maybe she just slid her quota for her lifetime. Which is sad. She’s still got a lot of sliding time left. Thankfully she’s still a climber, but I find myself over by the swings a lot more nowadays. Oh well. At least she’s not a rocker.
I’m not necessarily ready to call in any specialists, but have any of you parents out there experienced this? Is this a phase or might it be deeper than that? Or should I just suck it up and push her on the swings?