I don’t know if it was four years ago or five that Jack first started asking for a treehouse in the backyard. To my surprise, Alex was all, “Sure, Jack! I can build one for you!” He also said a lot of things about getting it done in a weekend, but the fact that he agreed to make one at all was the truly astonishing thing.
Then we waited and waited and waited and Jack kept asking and Alex kept insisting that he was going to build one and then we moved and we were glad that we didn’t build one at the old house and then every time we drove past a treehouse, Jack would say, “Why do they get a treehouse and we don’t?” and then we waited a little more.
Finally, late this past summer, Alex announced that it was finally time. He made a shopping list, stuffed us all into our van, and dragged us out to the first of many trips to Home Depot to buy lumber.
We had a very strict Home Depot separation of labor: Alex and Sam did most of the heavy lifting, Jack sat on the cart, Quinn laid on the floor, and I took photos. That’s me, always sacrificing for the greater good.
It was fun to get started buying our supplies as a family. There was a wrinkle though.
Guess how many people can fit in a Chrysler Town & Country filled with a bunch of six- to 12-foot pieces of lumber?
Guess how many people are in my family?
Answer: three more than two.
Guess which of us had to sit in the nearby Five Guys and grumble at each other while the other two took the lumber home?
Answer: Those of us not involved in most of the heavy lifting.
Alex had a plan to build the treehouse and fasten it to the tree. He started by attaching a brace to the tree and constructing a base. I helped nail the base together. Then Alex took out my crooked nails and re-hammered them in correctly.
See that vaguely annoyed look on his face? He wore that for the next week, especially when I said things like, “Are you sure this is how we’re supposed to do it?” and “Maybe we should have used a different screw,” and “Are treehouses supposed to be that wobbly?”
Even though Alex had the worst, fair-weather assistants in me and the munchkins, he still managed to maintain his sense of humor.
Alex, measuring what needs to be a pretty precise measurement: “This is a cubit.” Not everyone can build a treehouse using cubits and smidgens.
Building the base was all well and good, except you have to build it on the ground, then position it in its spot in the tree to figure out where to dig your post holes. That means you have to figure out a way to hold the base in the tree without posts while you’re figuring out where those posts go. And that base is heeeeaaaavy.
Our treehouse plans suggested you have three people hold up the base while another person figures out where the posts go. Looking at our little family, we just couldn’t make that math work. So Alex and I recruited a slightly too short ladder to act as one of our people, forced Sam to help, and tried to move as fast as possible.
Once we figured out where we wanted the post holes, we rested the base on the ladder as we used every tool we could find to dig in the hard, hard ground.
There was a lot of screeching of “DO NOT WALK UNDER THE TREEHOUSE!!!!!!!”
Once the base was attached to the posts, things got easier. I mean, not in terms of our marriage suffering from me insisting that the structure was too wobbly and him insisting that I just shut the fuck up already. (He turned out to be right. Go figure.)
The whole family helped build the treehouse. Some helped more than others.
Good job digging random holes in the yard, Jack and Quinn.
Actually, Jack was really into the whole thing and helped quite a bit. Quinn, less so. He really enjoyed that pickax though.
I won’t bore you with all the details of our exact process and our million trips to Home Depot and all of the curse words we used, but suffice it to say, we eventually ended up with a house-shaped structure attached to a tree.
It is just a skeleton, but it is a treehouse skeleton.
Not everyone in the house understood why we were doing what we were doing.
Kittens: “We have a perfectly cromulent house already standing. Why are you doing all this work to build that tiny house in a tree?”
It got a little sketchy when Alex had to climb to the very top of a tall ladder to hammer in some of the siding and to put the shingles on the roof.
I took this photo from my safe vantage point in the treehouse. He was in a much sketchier position on a ladder fifteen feet in the air. That’s his “I don’t want to die” face.
This is Alex’s “stop making jokes about my imminent death” face.
I gotta tell you, building a treehouse is a tremendous amount of work. And it turns out that all the lumber is super pricey. AND you might end up near divorce if you try to build one. But you just might make your inspiration for building the damn thing super happy.
That thumbs up was five years in the making.
It turns out that even though I took seventeen million photos of the building of the treehouse, I neglected to take one from the outside once it was done and it’s dark right now and I don’t want to go outside to take one, so I have to use this one that my mom took as we were finishing up the roof.
And, yes, I do mean WE. Sure, Alex is doing the heavy lifting here, but I was making sure everyone on Facebook knew of our progress, which was almost as important.
We’re Team Stimey, so we had to christen the thing with doughnut breakfast.
Not only is the treehouse stable, but it can fit a surprising number of people.
Sadly, we had said christening while Alex was at work. Being the dad can be a thankless job. So I would like to take this opportunity to thank him.
Thank you, Alex. You did SO much work. The treehouse is amazing. Our kids are so lucky. I hope they truly understand that. Excellent job, sir. Thank you.