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The Last Standing Fort

June 18, 2011

     When I was young I loved to “build” my own forts; as I called them.  They were wonderful creations that made my parents cringe.  I lived smack dab in the middle of the desert and there were no natural resources.  I would go scavenging in the desert behind my house and find scrap pieces of wood, warped and frayed at the edges.  I don’t know how I did it but I found enough to build my very own special place.  I nailed my wood into our cinder block fence, which is probably the only reason it stayed standing.  This did not thrill my parents as I’m sure I did permanent damage to the brick wall.  When it was complete, I wanted to live there, but my parents, being of the clean and tidy generation, wanted it down by the end of the day.

     I have old pine siding nailed horizontally between two pine trees in my yard reaching five feet high.  This weathered mess is what I would call and eye sore.  My kids call it a special place.  The boards have been nailed straight into my trees, and at the beginning I was sure it was a death sentence for those trees.  Well, these boards have been an eye sore now for over a year and the trees are still alive and apparently thriving.  Oh how I long to tear down those boards.  But then I remember that wonderful scrap board “building”, I use the term loosely, and how much it meant to me, and how I never fully enjoyed the plans and dreams I had for it.  I wanted to sleep in it.  I wanted to set up little furniture and I wanted lace curtains in my almost square windows.  But because it was a “mess” it never became that special place I dreamed of.  It was dismantled and cleaned up and the lovely view of the cinder block wall was restored.

     Dear Mama, our special place may well be a lovely French patio, but our children’s special place may well be those pine boards nailed between two trees.  It is difficult at times to let our children create.  The creative process is messy.  The imaginations of our children are great and naturally ready to create.  It is vital that we allow this process to happen.  Our children live in a virtual generation.  Little is left to the imagination.  They spend countless hours in front of TVs, game systems and computers, staring at everyone else’s imaginative worlds.  They are force fed fantasy graphics and very little is left to the imagination.  We are in danger of a generation that does not know how to play and create.  Not only must we allow those eye sore forts that kids create, we must encourage and guide their building, then leave it standing.

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