Jan 09, 2012 3 Share

The Swinger


Sihouette photo of boy swinging with sun behind him,
iStockphoto

I’m trying to write, and my soon to be 17-year-old (yikes!) is outside on the swing set, making so much noise I can’t think. I pound on the window, and the dogs start barking. Great. That’s much better.

Cameron likes to swing. And he makes these noises while he’s swinging. Neither of these activities are what would be considered socially acceptable behaviors for a 17-year-old. Both of these activities are becoming somewhat of an annoyance. Well, truth be known, the noises have always driven me crazy. I guess somewhere along the line, I just started tuning them out. Other people aren’t so fortunate, I gather. Cameron and I were at the gym last weekend, and I could hear his vocalizations and high-pitched chattering throughout the facility …  with my earphones on! At one point, I overheard two gym goers discussing the strange behavior of the boy on the treadmill. I seriously contemplated just ignoring Cameron while they were around, so they wouldn’t associate me with the “strange” boy. Instead, I walked over to Cameron and let him know that his noises were echoing, and I asked him if he even realized he was doing it. As expected, he said he hadn’t realized it, and was quiet … for a moment or two.

The vocalizations are one thing, but then there’s the swinging as well. Cameron sees it as a NEED. It used to be enough to jump up and down on a mini-trampoline in his bedroom. Unfortunately, we don’t have the headroom to accommodate indoor tramping anymore. Cameron now gets his energy release in the backyard on a well-worn swing set. It’s so well-worn that I’m a bit worried about its structural soundness, especially considering the daily workouts Cameron puts it through. But what’s a mom to do? Buy a 17-year-old a new swing set for his birthday? In the not too distant future, I see Cameron living independently. Must I add “close to playground” to the list of amenities we will be looking for? Surely that won’t go over well when parents see a young adult male hanging out on the swings.

So how do I transition Cameron to a more age appropriate way to satisfy his need for swinging? How do I make him aware of his noises and their effect on people around him? And are there other behaviors I need to consider transitioning him from or to that I’ve overlooked? Should I wean him off of Sponge Bob, or will that eventually happen on its own? If it doesn’t happen naturally, does it matter that Cameron’s entertainment choices are the same as most 10 year-olds? Going to the movies with friends might prove to be challenging if his interests don’t mature somewhat.

I’ve noticed a rise in the use of my question mark key. Just when I think I’ve figured out what I still need to figure out, more stuff to figure out appears. And how can I think straight with all that noise coming from the backyard? The first reader to answer all these questions correctly wins a “slightly” used swing set!



Comment Options

Anonymous

Have you looked at the swing

Have you looked at the swing chair and stand from Abilitations or Fun and Function? I have used this at school in the past and really enjoy it, if you put a sand bag on the front and back of the stand it makes it sturdier.

Appropriate, but...

Thanks for your comments. I agree that Cameron's swinging isn't hurting anyone... But he may end up hurting himself, because backyard swing sets aren't built to support constant use by a 150 lb (and growing) adult. And though he's hurting no one, the presence of a young adult male alone on a public playground may lead to concern, and possibly unnecessary harrassment.

Anonymous

appropriate

I think of all the things adults do that are not appropriate - are birthday parties appropriate? I playing in sand on the beach? I have to admit as a person over 50, I enjoy a good swing. I think of Cameron - what is more "acceptable" a good swing or the vocalizations he makes? I could sit her and think of the many things we do for fun - some hurt us, some hurt others, but swinging doesn't hurt anyone. As a social worker working in the field of disabilities for 28 years and having the opportunity to work with young adults with autism, I help individuals and their families to help their young adult to move forward in the transition. I don't think a swing will hinder success.