The Swiss Family Johnson

I’m not sure why, but for some reason the professor and I both imagined our boy-children would have a treehouse for their growing up years. A little space where they could form secret clubs and most likely plan shortsighted activities that would result in injury or the destruction of personal property.

But we don’t own the home we live in and we don’t have a suitable tree, so the future of our tree-house dreams looked dim.

And then something happened.

A guy named Koslav showed up one morning, for the express purpose of rebuilding the (decidedly rotten) deck and back fence. He left bits of excess wood behind, and the professor remembered he had some remnants stored at work from a tent installation earlier in the year. So the professor determined he had enough wood to construct some sort of fort slash lean-to slash tent next to a tree and spent Labor Day hammering, sawing and drilling.

The boys were beyond excited, begging to begin construction as soon as they woke up. Which means all five Johnsons hung out in the backyard, waiting for the professor to magically create a boy-refuge with an inadequate amount of supplies.

It’s the kind of work he enjoys best, really.

I woke up one morning several years ago, following a bathroom remodel, to find the professor had run out of full-sized white tiles and constructed a sort of mosaic-tile-ceiling above the bath/shower with remnants. A mosaic with one-and-a-half-inch thick grout lines. And when I woke up, many more moons later, after a kitchen remodel, I found he’d fashioned some sort of wallpaper-collage-backsplash because he’d run out of suitable pieces of paper.

All this to say the man likes a challenge: making something out of not-quite-enough.

But back to the ‘freehouse’. It was a glorious day, really. The boys stayed close to their dad, helping occasionally, conducting club meetings at other times. I was gone when the Gort tried to read the ‘minutes’ from their meeting. Apparently he’d heard about minutes and clubhouses from a Calvin and Hobbes book.

More than anything, they tried to establish that this would be a boys-only refuge. No girls allowed. The Gort was set on calling it GROSS: Get Rid of Slimy Girls. Until I pointed out that it actually spelled GROSG. ‘What about Get Rid of Slimy Sisters?’ I suggested, just so he could have a bonafide acronym. He mulled over the idea. ‘Yes, but we don’t have any sisters, so that doesn’t make any sense.’

‘Can we sleep in it?’ the boys begged when it was finished. And I put them off with the usual parental maybes and whatnot. But, perhaps we shall, sleep in there. With a plethora of cleanish bathrooms and a fully equipped kitchen mere paces away, it’s my kind of camping.

12 thoughts on “The Swiss Family Johnson

  1. i like that you classify this post under architecture….. and maybe in GROSG … the G is silent… which according to the minutes read also applies to girls… other nuggets… no little brothers without permission of mr. G. no leaving food…. it will attract ants…

  2. Thanks guys! The boys love it (though it’s already filled with dirt….sigh.) Shawn, I should have known the Gort wouldn’t have gotten it wrong. Kim, yes, Jason is for hire – as long as you don’t mind unorthodox construction methods. Vicky, you should totally drive twentysomehours so we can hang out in there. Renate, you know they’d let the ‘soo cute’ Liesel in there.


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