My kids have been begging me to let THEM repaint their treehouse, for weeks now. Naturally, with their ages ranging from 6-11, I had some hesitation about it.
Renee built this tree house, with her own hands, several years ago, when the kids were little. I wore a tool belt, held boards, delegated jobs, and I got to paint. I painted the bottom green, so it would blend in with my hostas and ferns, and the top white so it resembled a white picket fence. When it was first built, the kids looked at it like it was a mansion, or at least a penthouse. Now it looks more like a run down shack, and it certainly doesn't look like a picture of SAFETY.
A large portion of the picket fencing is missing off the top. This is the result of my boys, tieing a jump rope to the tree branch, and swinging like tarzan into the boards, hoping that the fence would stop them from hitting the ground, from the top story. Nails are sticking out from the sides and from the boards that have fallen to the ground. Also the door is off its hinges, the tree that the house surrounds, is dead, and it really is basically back to the original wood color.
This reminds me of the giant slide my dad built us when we were kids. We were poor (only monetarily):), but he always managed to make due with whatever we had. It was a wood slide, but he needed a slippery surface. So he brilliantly found some scrap aluminum to place on the top, so we could slide down with ease. It may have been left over from the chicken coop, but I can't rule out that he didn't take a small piece right off the roof of our house. He always wanted us to be happy, and he has a giant heart:).
After researching a little about aluminum, I realized that in some senses, my dad was a genius, and in others…..He maybe should have thought a few things through!!
First of all, aluminum doesn't rust, so it can be out in the elements. Also, it is impact resistant, smart for use by a bunch of kids. It can be molded and shaped with relative ease, but it has to be heated first (which we cover later). The downside is that it can be sharp if not properly cut and sanded, and its slippery. Lastly, and most confusingly, it is a good conductor of heat and electricity. In the research, it says that this is a pro, but in my slide story, I'm going to call it a MINUS.
The aluminum was nailed onto the slide with roofing nails, some nailed all the way in, and some were bent and nailed in the best they could. After getting second to third degree burns, on our legs, arms, hands, and torsos, in mid July, we got smart and started riding down it on our sleeping bags….. or we just dressed in winter garb:). We never once needed our parents to tell us it was hot, like kids do today.
Then, in August, we got even smarter, by running a hose down the slide, and putting a swimming pool at the bottom. Occasionally we got skin lacerations, and our clothes would get torn on a loose nail, and I don't even want to think what could have happened if we were on it, during a storm, but we had fun and have great memories of it. As adults, my brothers and I, plus some of my friends who got to experience this, have laughed about this slide on several occasions. It didn't matter that it was a poor persons slide, we lived to tell the story!!:)
I'm sure my dad let us help build this contraption. Actually, I'm POSITIVE, because he loved for us to help him with all of his inventions. The thing is, we sometimes watch our kids TOO closely these days, and they don't get these “unsafe” experiences. In some cases, I'm guilty of this too. In others, such as bike helmets and “the accident waiting to happen tree house”, I'm not. But I decided my children need experience in life.
So, against my better judgement, I agreed to let them paint the tree house. But….I informed them that it isn't as fun as they think, and that they will NOT quit after a few boards. Then I hear “OH we're not going to quit Mama, we love painting, YADA, YADA, YADA…
They first opened the can of paint on the patio, sending the paint lid flying, and landing on my good work shoe. With gritted teeth, I quietly said “clean it up and please move to the grass”. Then, they didnt stir it well, and started painting with the oil/water on the top, which dripped all over the hostas and ferns, that they were standing on top of. Then, they would lay their paint brushes on my wood trim, while they took breaks, after painting every board or two. After painting a portion of only one side, they were done, and claiming that they weren't the ones who wanted to paint it!!!!
The fact that I even let them do this project speaks volumes, because I have ALOT of control issues. So I think the fact that I was able to calmly tell them, that they WILL be finishing this project, without damaging my vocal cords, says even more.
I don't know how my dad had so much patience when allowing us to help. I REALLY don't! After one paint project like this, I start to wonder if that rickety old, falling down tree house, with boards missing off the top level, and nails sticking out, is the least of their worries……