Child learns to swing

Staff writer

Wearing a smile that stretched from ear to ear, Elijah Klenda of Pilsen grabbed his mother by the sleeve and ran toward the swing set.

“I’m going to fly like a bird,” the 4-year-old said. “I love to swing. It is the best thing ever.”

Elijah is one of the many children who enjoyed playing Monday afternoon in Marion’s Central Park, after school let out. The sun was high in the sky. The temperature just hit 70 degrees and the wind had started to blow. Elijah’s mother, Andrea, said it was the perfect weather to spend the afternoon outdoors — and her children thought so too.

Elijah was there for only one reason: to learn how to swing “like a big kid.”

“I want to do it all by myself,” he said, while pointing to his chest.

His mother smiled and swiftly scooped him up in her arms and set him in the small swing. With the wind at her son’s back, she pulled on the swing, only letting go when it had enough momentum. Elijah squealed in glee as she pushed him a couple more times and then yelled out the instructions: “Pump your legs up and down. You have to keep them moving. Keep it up and you’ll go higher and faster!”

Moments later, he was soaring high above his mother’s head and waved to his two brothers — Evan, 2, and Silas, 2 ½ months. He slowed down then and threw his arms around his mother, giving her a big hug.

“I did it,” he exclaimed with a proud look on his face. “I finally did it all by myself. Thank you for teaching me.”

Wiping a tear from her eye, Andrea Klenda said she was glad she brought her children to the park today.

“As a parent, you don’t get moments like that too often,” she said. “We don’t have a park in Pilsen. It’s wonderful that Marion has a place where kids can play. Going to the park will be a lot easier on me now that he knows how to pump. It takes a lot of hard work — and a lot of muscle strength — to push a kid on a swing set, and I’ve got three.”

Getting back on the swing, the 4-year-old began to pump his legs and was able to lift himself into the air within moments.

For the next hour, the Klenda children played together on the playground. They shrieked and laughed as they ran, jumped and spun on all of the equipment.

“I love to be outside,” the 4-year-old said. “It makes me happy.”

His brother, Evan, agreed, chanting “outside, outside” as he raced after his brother.

Klenda said she will definitely be bringing her children back to play in the park as the temperature continues to rise and summer weather sets in.

 

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