Did you know that the most incredible building materials in the known universe are secretly in possession of human beings? It’s true, although most people go their entire lives without ever realizing it.
We possess the ability to construct immensely strong structures with walls of such strength that only the most egregious of forces could tear them down. These structures are amazingly adaptable, with nearly infinite possible configurations.
You desire a small domicile with an outside coating that bends light around it to render it invisible? Done. You seek an underwater lab with the ability to shape the very molecules of water itself to make a permeable barrier to the crushing pressures of the deep? Easy.
What incredible technology does some nameless secret organization hide from us that makes all of this transcend from impossible to highly probable? Quite honestly the power is within us, or more accurately in the hands and minds of our children. We are simply the custodians of their endless supply of building materials with which they can construct to the limits of their creative impulse.
I’m talking, of course, about the timeless tradition of building a fort.
Dreams and Imagination Fun
A fort to a child is not just an impregnable castle or secret spy lair. It is freedom. It is expression and pure imagination bound only by the limits of what is at hand. As a child I would love to take all the couch cushions in the house (much to my parent’s dismay) and stack them in monolithic fashion. Then, draping a blanket or sleeping bags over the towering forms, my imagination ran amok. Soon, those cushions became energized barriers to the invading hoard, or living solitary guardians of my castle’s outer walls. Building a fort was a great way to physically manifest my wildest dreams and arrange my parent’s furniture in frustratingly random ways.
The beauty of it is that a fort can be made of anything! In elementary school we had a playground with a wooden fort and a metal monkey bar as well. One day the wooden fort was a tall pirate ship, and the monkey bars served as the Millennium Falcon. Possibility was just flowing from our minds, and in an age before the dazzling distractions of video games and consoles, my friends and I played. We exercised and really just played… as children should.
Later, after I reached my 30’s and had my own child, I saw in this new opportunity a chance to relive that treasured time. I myself have built many couch forts with my little boy, and now I have the ultimate plan to create the most amazing fort of all. You see, my son was born on a 200 acre farm in rural Kentucky. Now that he is 6, I will be journeying back there for the first time since he was born.
His grandfather and I have a plan. With a few chainsaws, some wooden boards, nails and creativity; we will create the ultimate fort. This castle of wood will inspire a loving bond between the three of us.
It’s got to be done safely, but with a few simple tips, I believe it will be amazing. I’m definitely going to choose level ground. Most likely I will dig four to six holes in the ground and fill them with posts and concrete inside to provide stability. I’ll want to have a plan to make a floor that will support enough weight for an army of alien robots, or just my son and a few friends. I’ll need to make sure the wood is treated and free of chemicals and lastly it will be free of sharp edges and nails.
My mind’s eye sees the fort now. Come next year it will become a reality. Really though it won’t matter what it looks like in the end, the act of building it with my son and father will provide the unbroken chain of love. To my son it will be one of the most treasured gifts ever, a blank slate with which to make a starship, or King Arthur’s Camelot. A fort is a key to the mind’s treasure, all we have to do as “grown ups” is unlock the chest and share the rewards.
Deborah Petersen is a mother of a active young boy. In her spare time she is a content contributor for Design 55, a designer and online retailer of Design 55 Modern Furniture.
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