some assembly required

After Philip and I got back from the park on Saturday, Peter told me he wanted to start shopping for a swing set for our backyard. While it’s good for Philip to go the park so that he has the opportunity to interact with peers and to use equipment we could not have at home, sometimes he just needs a few minutes of play to wear him out before a nap or give him the sensory input he needs to be calmer and more focused. The park isn’t that far away, but it involves preparation, travel and transitions. It makes sense for a stop at the park to be a part of our other weekend activities when we are already out and about in the car. For Peter during the week, being able to take Philip straight to the backyard would be ideal.

We did some searching online and found a set that we liked. We ran out to the local superstore, but they didn’t have any on display. Since payday is a few days away, we decided it would be prudent to table the order until next month. Then we would have to figure out how in the world we would transport it to our house.

I saw my parents several times over the weekend. I was careful not to mention our plan to buy a swing set. Why? Because if I tell them about something we want or need, sometimes they will go ahead and buy it. Don’t get me wrong. I truly appreciate that they do this. I am always grateful that they are willing to help us out. Peter, though, doesn’t feel as comfortable accepting gifts. He does not want to seem greedy or too dependent. For that reason, I didn’t say a word about the swing set wish. I knew that, once we ordered one, we may need to enlist my parents’ vehicle in picking it up from the store, but I was keeping silent until then.

On Monday, I learned that my parents’ vehicles would not have been big enough to transport the box with the swing set that we wanted. How did I learn this? Because my mom showed up that afternoon with her best friend. Did I mention that said friend owns a pickup? And that in the bed of the pick-up was a swing set that my parents had purchased for Philip?

The first thing I did was go on the defensive.

“Big mouth,” Peter said when my mom walked in with the swing set anchor kit.

“I didn’t say a word!” I protested.

“Yeah, right,” was his response.


Yesterday, the temperature hit a record high of 95 degrees. Philip was napping when my mom and her friend dropped off the box containing his new set.  As much as I hated the idea, I told Peter that we had better start assembling it.

Any object with “some assembly required” stresses me out. I’m always certain that putting together the item is going to result in divorce. Peter is not a patient man, and we’ve had some blowouts in the past when we have put together furniture or some other new purchase. Therefore, I get nervous when we start which really doesn’t help matters.

I was proactive and read through the instructions before suggesting we take advantage of a napping child. I also put my shoes on because, once Peter decides we are doing something, we do it RIGHT NOW!

After a false start (Peter installed the first set of brackets upside down), some swearing (most of the illustrations in the instructions were not very illuminating), and a lot of sweat, we had the frame and swings put together in over an hour’s time. It began to thunder, and I could see dark clouds moving in the south, so we put the rest of the parts in the garage. We had to stop at this point anyway because we were due at my parents’ for supper.

Philip didn’t get to see the new addition in the backyard until after we returned from his grandparents’. He ran straight to the backyard, and we could tell that he was surprised to see something new. He stood back to check it out and then he finally smiled. We helped him up on a swing, and he was ready to go.

You can’t tell in this picture, but he was having a good time

Peter began bringing the parts for the other sections of the swing set out from the garage. Apparently, he had decided that we would finish putting the set together. RIGHT NOW! The sun was no longer beating down on the yard, and there was a pleasant breeze, so I knew it wouldn’t be as hot. However, the stress level was still high since I didn’t get a chance to re-read the instructions before Peter started working. We now also had a curious toddler wanting to look at, touch, pick up, move and climb on everything.

It took another hour-plus of work to attach the slide and the glider mechanism. Once again, the illustrated instructions were lacking. The glider, the final component, was the most difficult to assemble. One has to be able to hold up to four pieces of metal in perfect alignment to bolt them together and put on the seats. Yes, at one point I actually said, “Philip will never know the difference. He can live without the glider.” Fortunately, in addition to be impatient at times, Peter is also stubborn tenacious. He wasn’t going to let the swing set WIN.

The finished product. Take that, swing set!

I wish I had the camera with me when Philip got on the glider. He kept grabbing my hand so that I would push him again. His smile was so wonderful, it made the frustration, sweat and a few tears worth it.

5 thoughts on “some assembly required

    1. I think this is going to be so good for him. And for my husband. Sure, the weather won’t always cooperate, but I’m sure you feel the same way about your pool-it’s nice to have it right out your back door.


  1. That’s fantastic!!! I have so wanted to get something for our yard…..big birch tree is challenging our space but I love the shade it brings us in the humidity. I think you are inspiring me:)


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