Sunday, March 29, 2009

In the Swing

My parents wanted to buy my son an outdoor play set for his fourth birthday. We knew friends had acquired a nice one at Lowe's (a big box hardware store) and a few weeks ago we went to price one. The simplest "kit" (with a couple of swings, a tower thing and a slide) cost $1500 - and that's unassembled. To have it assembled by the good folks at Lowe's would cost over $2100. I saw those prices and walked promptly out of the store.

I thought we would happily make do with our neighborhood playground, but then I realized that we had quite a few neighbors who had play sets and children who had grown up and perhaps no longer fancied so much time on the swings.

I called the neighbor with whom I am closest and asked if we could buy their play set. She immediately said they would love it if we just *take it* because it had been years since their children used it and they would like to plant some fruit trees in its place.

She refused payment but I managed to talk her into a gift card for our local whole foods grocery store as a token of our gratitude. And another friend broke down the set and put it up in our backyard for a very reasonable sum.

So instead of paying a small fortune to the big box store who cuts down trees in China for their play sets, we were able to give an 8-year-old play set a new life with a very grateful child *and* support our local economy with my parents' gift.

We have played on that set every day over the last week and we've already hosted lots of other children to share the wonderful gift. Below are pictures of G (aka Spiderman) and two of his favorite playmates - of whom he commonly asks, "Are they my sisters or my girlfriends?" I suppose we still have plenty of time to figure that out.

This week I'm rejoicing in the simple pleasures of a swing set.


PaulaB52 said...

I refused to spend tons of $$ on those fancy swing sets @ Lowe's. We bought a metal one at Sears when my boys were tiny. When we moved to the country, we had 25+ year old live oaks to put swings in. My kids still play on those swings 7 years later, but it's a different type of play. Instead of swinging, they now climb to the top, "skin the cat" drop down onto the trampoline, yikes! (it's just the ropes now, the swing seats are gone)

Needless to say, they are crazy and it's enough to give a mama a heartattack. :)

We ended up breaking apart the swingset frame and using it for various things around the house. We gave the swings to some friends. Funny now when I think about it. :)

PaulaB52 said...

Oh, btw, my current blog is Your comments don't accept anything but blogger. :)

Angela Barton said...

That is a great story about one person needing something that another person wants to get rid of. The other side of that equation is picturing your family going through all the effort and dropping all the money at Lowe's, while on the other side of town another family is hauling their old swing set to the dump.

Good for you for taking a little extra time, and the initiative to speak to the neighbors.

FOO said...

@Paula- I love your story of how the swing set has morphed into many different forms over the years to meet your family's - and other's - needs. And my almost-four-year old is also almost giving mama a heart attack, too - I turned away and he had climbed to the *top* of the set!

@Angela- Thanks for the kudos! Yes, your point is a great one. My neighbors don't know about Freecycle and so they really didn't know that someone would love to take it off their property (and make more room for their fruit trees!).

Daisy said...

Great idea! We got a hand-me-down set from a neighbor, too. We made the deal that if the kids "missed" it, they could come over any time to swing. Eventually it wore out, we gave the swing away, and cut the rest up for scrap.