We arrive, after a long slow walk, at the swings. It’s not too cold that you can’t enjoy yourself, but we both have hats on. There’s no one else around. I lift him into the swing and start pushing. I’ve got a couple of tricks. I push, then I run around the other side and push him from the back. After initially finding this distressing and thinking I’d disappeared forever, now he finds it funny. For a while at least.
I can see a buggy approaching. Another man with a beard, younger, gets his son out and puts him in the swing next to us. They both look quite cheerful. The kid is clad in something so thick he can barely move, but he’s happy. The visible part of his head is smiling.
They start pushing, but this guy has some moves. He turns around as the swing comes back towards him, resulting in him receiving a firm kick up the arse from his son, who erupts in exponentially increasing fits of laughter with every new punishing blow.
Lorenzo looks on, curious, brow furrowed. He’s still happier on the swing than on the ground, but I suspect he senses that he’s missing out here. I continue the running around schtick, we do some counting. But he’s seen something better, like a Mars bar nestled in fresh salad. Me and this guy haven’t spoken. He looks quite outgoing and friendly, but he perhaps senses a lack of those qualities in the person next to him. Our conversation consists of a kind of call and response of awkward silences, as if we expect the kids to introduce us. I hate parties.
Time passes. It’s probably too late now to suddenly talk, although the pressure to do so is increasing. (In my head, a graph – time on one axis, pressure on the other). At some point he says, louder than perhaps is necessary: “Shall we go on the slide now?” They leave, the adults manage a kind of exchange of glances with eyes raised and awkward smiles, Lorenzo points at the kid and says “Baby!!!”
The next day there’s no one around again. We seem to have found the sweet spot in the timetable. I lift him into the swing. Another dad approaches with his daughter. Out of the corner of my eye, I think he has a beard, and definitely a hat. He starts to push his daughter, who is quietly content with the situation.
The two swings have somehow become synchronised. I’ve established my rhythm now. I muster a big push, Lorenzo shoots backwards and, on his return, as I suddenly turn my back on him, he kicks me up the arse. I jump. Lorenzo laughs. We do it again. The higher I jump on impact, the more he likes it. The daughter points and makes noises. From my peripheral vision, I think the other guy is watching me.