My memory tells me it happened several times. I’d be blissfully soaring only to have the rope snap, my face smack, and a tiny, white tooth sink into the rubber of the tire swing.

My dad rigged up this great tire swing on the lot next to our house, and my brother, our friends, and I used to play on it all the time. We’d zoom into the air, spin ourselves silly, and talk in the way of children while we played. It was a great spot. My friend Melanie told me about her menengitis there; she described the needle they put in her spine. I was horrified for her, and I wasn’t the least bit scared for myself. This was the magic of the tire swing (and of childhood). It didn’t seem like pain really lived here under this old tree.

This idea is odd given that I lost most of my baby teeth – at least according to my memory – in that swing when the rope would break and send me slamming, face-first into the rubber. But I don’t remember any pain from these moments (although I’m sure I cried – I cried about everything as a kid). Maybe it was just the glee kids have when they lose teeth – the promise of a gift under the pillow (silver dollars in our case). Or maybe it really didn’t hurt much at all. But the truth is that I remember that tire swing as great still, and I remember it as a good story, a tool that changed my life, even in such a small way, a rubber instrument of growth.

I think this tire swing might be a lot like many of the tools God uses to teach us and help us grow. Sometimes we have to smack our heads up against these experiences over and over again to learn and grow, but learn and grow we do. And in the end, we remember only the progress and forget most of the pain. We might even end up with a shiny bit of something under our pillow as a reminder of what we have lost and gained.

The Tire Swing by Shirley Reade“The Tire Swing” by Shirley Reade