Monday, October 29, 2012

Treehouse of the Brave

My nine-year-old son has a friend at school who invents the most incredible things. His mother tells me he is continually foraging through junk heaps and hard rubbish and sees possibility in everything. The other day, when I went to pick my son up from their house, he insisted I go into the backyard to see his friend's latest invention. I had been hearing a lot about his friend's 'treeless tree house' recently, as we have not long ago moved into a 1950s house without a single full grown tree in the garden - a constant source of despair for my youngest son, who gets antsy if he doesn't have something to climb. When he had told me that his friend had built a tree house that wasn't even in a tree, I had pictured a couple of turned over dining chairs with a sheet draped over the top. This (above photo) is what lay in wait.

As you might be able to see from the photograph, the house has been built over a wood heap and hovers perilously a good shin-breaking distance from the ground. To enter, you have to clamber over all this wood, full of rusty nails and thumb-sized splinters, to reach the ladder which takes you up to the house. The platform itself is propped up by varying lengths of wood and even a wheelbarrow, which you might see wedged in there on your left. If you were thinking this might possibly the most dangerous treehouse in history, I suspect you wouldn't be far off.

But it is also the most incredibly inventive and exciting and creative thing I have seen made by a child in a long time. This is the kind of treehouse my father would have made as a boy, the kind of treehouse I would have loved to make as a child, had I been clever enough or brave enough.  However, I have to say that for me, while this kid is quite obviously a child-genius, kudos must also go to his mum. In an era where you almost need to sign a permission form for your child to use a pair of scissors, I reckon she is a pretty fabulous mum to let her son create something like this. Apparently without even hovering around, shouting out well-meaning projections of fear in the way that I may have.

I would like to think I could be so brave...


  1. Love it! For both reasons you mention - the inventiveness of the child and the fabulousness of the mother.


    1. Isn't it wonderful. Makes me want to hand my kids a bunch of nails and a hammer!

  2. This makes me feel better about letting my girls do things that other people think are dangerous. Recently someone saw my daughter climbing a tree and then hanging upside down from a branch, and said "I know someone that ended up in a wheelchair because of that." I felt terrible, but then I thought, how many people end up in wheelchairs from car accidents? Does that mean people don't drive? Incidentally, we don't have a car, so maybe we can afford to take a few risks in other areas!

  3. You are so right. My son is up trees all the time and I do my best not to freak, even though the only time he did actually break a bone was tripping over his own shoelace!
    That was an awful thing for that person to say. As if we are not almost drowning in our own fears for our children anyway without people adding to them. Have you seen the Free Range Kids blog? I love it because it reminds us that so much of the panic and fear that is fed to us about our children is completely unnecessary and the best we can do for them is to give them the skills to be out in the world without us and trust that they will be OK.