When The Living Was Easy
When Jake brought his house five years ago he wasn’t married and didn’t have any kids. He only had one nephew who was barely two years old. Now, five years later Jake is engaged and about to be a dad to a bonus daughter who is 5 years old. Lila, Jake’s soon to be daughter, loved to play in his backyard. Jake couldn’t blame her much. If he were 5 he would love it too. It was a super big backyard with lots of grass to run and play, lots of room to have summer cookouts and even a basketball court near the garage. Not to mention the big oak tree and the smaller lemon and apple trees growing in the yard. Jake thought it was definitely cool. He thought about adding a swing set for Lila to play on when she and her mom moved in but Lila had other ideas.
“Jake, you know what this backyard is missing?” Lila asked in her little five year old squeaky voice one day while she was in the backyard with Jake and her mom trying to make baskets.
“No, Lila what do I need back here?” Jake answered her smiling.
“We need a pool. A big swimming pool. Right over there.” Lila pointed to the middle of the backyard a few feet from the basketball court.
Jake laughed and laughed trying to imagine a pool in the middle of his backyard.
“I don’t think we have enough room for a pool.”
“Ok, what about a tree house?” Lila asked, pointing to the big oak tree.
“A treehouse? “ Her mom asked, looking like where on earth did she get that from.
“Yeah, my friend, John has one in his yard. His dad and uncle built it. Please, please, Jake can you make me a treehouse?”
Jake couldn’t resist when he looked at Lila’s face light up at just the thought of a treehouse but he knew better than to say yes without asking her mom first.
Jake looked at Carol, Lila’s mom and she nodded in agreement.
“I guess we can build a treehouse. “
It took Jake about a month to finish the treehouse and he had to admit he and his friend, Josh, had done a pretty good job. In spite of Josh’s complaining that it was going to be too small. Jake told him it didn’t need to be a treehouse mansion because it was for a little girl and possibly more kids in the future.
It was a warm summer day when Jake decided he wanted to spend some time up in the treehouse before Lila saw it and decorated it to her liking. He was thinking about the time he and his brother had a treehouse, way back when they were little. His mom actually built most of it with very little help from his dad. His dad wasn’t what he would call handy and hated to work with his hands. He barely knew what a saw was used for. His mom on the other hand, she loved learning new things and she would try to do things she wouldn’t normally do at least once. Hence, the building of the treehouse.
Jake let his legs swing from the floor of the treehouse and propped them on one of the tree’s branches like he did when he was a kid. He had made a rope ladder, like the one in his treehouse to climb up and down and rigged a rope and bucket to bring up food when needed. He filled this bucket with cold beer and ice and some chips.
Dangling his legs freely now, Jake imagined what Lela would put up there in her tree house. He remembered he and his brother had an old record player in theirs in the corner, two folding chairs, a small card table and an old sheet they used as a background when they played theater, a game they made up. Jake imagined Lila’s decorations would be more to her liking. Probably a little dollhouse, maybe a few things with her favorite colors, purple and blue, probably some curtains tied back with a ribbon, a yellow ribbon like she wore in her hair. She might even bring her best friend up here to play and Jake was sure her mom wouldn’t be too far from her in the tree house, at least for now. When Lila got a little older like Jake and his brother they hung a sign out on the tree which said, “No Girls and No Parents Allowed.” They especially didn’t want their little sister climbing up to ruin their fun.
He thought about Lila having tea parties up there with her friends, possibly him and her mom too. Hopefully, she would invite him to one of her pretend tea parties like she does now. She would take out her plastic blue and pink tea set that her grandma gave her for Christmas and pour her pretend tea in the pot and into the little tiny tea cups. Lila always liked to wear a pink boa when she had her tea parties and her pink baseball cap. She said it made her feel grown up. Jake thought it was cute the way she pretended to sip her tea after she blew on it. She would always say the tea was too hot. Carol would bring out some freshly baked from the store, cookies and they would all eat them with the pretend tea.
Jake and his brother didn’t have pretend tea parties in their treehouse. They told scary stories and tried to scare each other and they had pretend sword fights and pretend theater. Jake would play the lead character and his brother would play all the supporting characters and the animals. Sometimes he was the narrator too if needed. Sometimes they would invite their friends over and put snacks in the bucket to pull up to them. They would play up there for hours until it was time for them to come inside for dinner.
Jake opened a can of beer and smiled. He was thinking those were the days. The long days of summer, when summer lasted a whole 3 months and they had a whole 3 months of playing in the tree house. Once their parents let them spend the night up there after a week of begging and pleading and convincing their mom that it would be okay and that they would leave a flashlight on all night. Well, they almost made it through the night. Jake laughed to himself if his brother hadn’t gotten scared and thought he saw a bear coming up the steps. The bear turned out to be their dad coming to check on them. After that his brother was too scared to stay the night so they went back inside and slept in their own beds.
Jake drank the last of his beers and finished eating his big bag of corn chips and stood up. He thought he heard something beneath the treehouse. He laughed and said aloud “I hope it’s not a bear.”
“Jake are you up there?” A tiny voice called his name from the ground below.
“Hi, Jake. You did it! You made my tree house!” Lila squalled with happiness and started clapping her hands.
“Hey guys. I was going to call you but kinda lost track of time when I climbed up to test it out.”
“What do you think, Lila? Do you like it?”
“I love it. Can we have a tea party now?” Lila held up her little tea set.
Jake knew that this tree house was going to hold a lot of memories over the years for Lila just like his tree house did for him and his brother and eventually his little sister too.