VIII. SWINGING GAMES
The majority of children’s games are known for their mobility, but in just a few the movement is repetitive and oscillating, games that we refer to as swinging games. In the first, the spatial movement is essential for the game to be played. However, in the second case, it is the very purpose of the entertainment.
The movement in this case is of two types: pendular, i.e. oscillating with respect to the vertical and which is in a horizontal direction; and balancing, i.e. oscillating with respect to a horizontal plane and performed vertically. This first is achieved by means of the traditional swing, while the second requires having a piece of timber or plank balanced in the middle on a point of support. The game that consisted of putting one child on the pole of the ox wagon and the others on the back was basically the same as the seesaw, where the system formed by the axle and wheels acted as the pivot.
The easiest way to make a swing is to tie the two ends of a rope to a horizontal branch of a tree or a beam, with the distance between the two ends slightly larger than the width of the shoulders of the children who are going to play on it. The lowest part of the rope, where a “U” is formed, must be the right height from the floor, so that the child, once sitting down can touch the ground with their feet to be able to push themselves.
Usually a garment, cloth or often an agricultural sack, well folded and held in place, was usually put on the rope to prevent any rope burn to the child’s bottom. A plank has also been used, but that was introduced later.
The children help to make the swing, often supervised by an adult who made sure that the ropes were securely tied, as otherwise that could have serious consequences. When the children who are going to use the swing are too small, an adult has to help them up.
The child on the swing can pump themselves or pushed by another person. If the child is playing alone, once seated, they move backwards and forwards, lifting their feet from the floor and letting their body move forwards. While moving forward, the child keeps their legs straight to get as far away as possible from the resting point of the swing. Conversely, when swinging back, the child’s legs are bent, and when the child reaches the lowest point of the swing, when vertically, they use their legs to push off from the floor. The child can thus reach a considerable height in just a few swings. Afterwards, inertia and slight pumps allow the child to continue swinging with minimum effort.
When the child who wants to swing is helped be another person, the latter only has to push the child on the back.
Children can take part in this game from when they are able to balance on the swing, but they are then always helped by an adult. Once they are a little older, they learn to pump themselves.
When there are several children waiting to swing, a rota is established and the number of times each child swings is counted.
The seesaw consists of a board, plank, piece of wood or trunk, balanced approximately in the middle on a fixed support that acts as a pivot. That support could be a large stone, a low wall, a woodshop table, another trunk or a pile of earth.
Usually two children, and sometimes more, sit opposite each other and astride at the two ends of the plank. The weight must be the same at each end of the support point to facilitate the seesawing. Another child, if they are thin, may need to be added to one end in order to balance it.
Ox wagon pole. Kirrin-karranka burkaman
The ox wagon, burdi or gurdi, was used as a seesaw in a game that a group of boys could play. One of them would sit astride the pole clinging to the pegs and the others would get in the wagon and make the pole go up and down. During the game, they spoke or sang.
Unlike the previous ones, this means of entertainment disappeared as the ox wagon was replaced by the new farming machinery.