I had a treehouse built for my grandsons recently. It has a sleeping loft for camping out. The loft was as much for me as for my grandsons, because I’ve always been enchanted with the idea of sleeping on a second floor.
Gabe and I have slept in it twice already.The first time was over Thanksgiving weekend. The treehouse, which is actually a playhouse built on stilts between two trees, wasn’t quite finished then. So we had to put a tarp over an open wall section. We ran an extension cord through a window to operate a small heater.
The ladder to the loft hadn’t been built, but the workmen had left a step-ladder. It was rather unstable, and I fell a few rungs from the bottom. Gabe became very concerned and insisted that I sleep on the main level because he was afraid that I would fall when I got up to use the camping potty during the night. He and his friend, Walker, slept in the loft, and I slept down below. The window we ran the cord through wouldn’t stay closed, and we all nearly froze to death. Despite a two-inch exercise mat under my sleeping bag, the wooden floor beneath me felt like bricks. None of us slept much, but we had fun. Oh, and the boys got up to pee twice during the night, while I didn’t go at all.
Last weekend, I had Matias, who is almost three, Thursday night and Friday. We had a tea party in the treehouse. We sat at a toddler-sized picnic table that had belonged to my 42-year-old daughter when she was about six. We used a pink plastic Fisher-Price tea set that had belonged to Matias’s mom when she wasn’t much older then he is now. Friday afternoon, I swapped the toddler for Gabe, because he and I had riding lessons at my house the next day. So Saturday night, Gabe, Walker and I camped out in the treehouse again. The use of the phrase “camped out” instead of “slept” is intentional.
I cut a hole in the wall beneath a window at floor level, using a drill bit meant for cutting doorknob holes. We ran the heavy-duty extension cord through that and I had the heater blowing on me all night, but it didn’t do much good. I had purchased a new sleeping bag for Gabe and a self-inflating mat to go under my sleeping bag for padding. The latter didn’t inflate, so once again I felt like I was sleeping on concrete.
The boys were determined to stay up all night playing games on my iPad, but they didn’t quite make it. They got up to pee twice, but went out on the porch and used the yard as their toilet. The zipper in my sleeping bag was broken, but I had an extra blanket over the bag, so I wasn’t cold. The boys wound up sleeping together in Gabe’s new sleeping bag because Walker’s wasn’t warm enough. They also had a wool blanket over them, so they were toasty.
The bottom line, though, is that we still didn’t get much sleep. But that wasn’t the object. We were making memories. We do that a lot. I’ve found that it doesn’t take much to make memories with your grandchildren. Sometimes, it requires a little creativity, but mainly it requires your time. When all is said and done, that’s what they really want anyway. And I believe that spending time together will outlive, or at least outweigh, the memories of what we actually do.