One dad’s tree house gift for his daughter is spreading smiles to thousands online.
As soon as his daughter started walking, “DIY Dad” — as he prefers to be known — says the little one began to climb the tree in front of their Golden, Colorado home. “She liked being in the tree quite a bit,” he tells Yahoo Parenting. And after reading her friend’s Magic Treehouse books, he says she started asking for one of her own. “I was just going to make a platform for her to enjoy at the top of her climb but things … escalated.”
Indeed. The 40-something newspapers retiree spent two years and $3,000 constructing his daughter a playhouse in their Freemont cottonwood — a breathtaking 30 feet off the ground — as a gift for her 5th birthday last May. “It was a huge hit,” wrote the Treehouser blogger Monday on Reddit. Ditto his photo montage of the digs, which he posted on Sunday. Less than 24 hours later, it raked in more than 4,400 points and hundreds of comments.
As soon as the kindergartener saw it, he tells Yahoo Parenting, she broke out into a “big perma-grin.” She climbed up and started yelling down “about how cool it was,” followed by an announcement that she wanted to sleep there that night. “Then she quickly backtracked,” he says. “She wants to put a sleepover on hold until ‘dad puts in a bathroom.’”At the birthday party debut, the stay-at-home dad detailed how she and her friends “enjoyed going up and down as much as playing in the tree house itself. We sent up walkie-talkies, snacks, blankets, pillows, dolls, toy fairies, you name it.” (“DIY Dad” doesn’t want to share his real name or his daughter’s.)
Nearly a year later, his daughter is still just as psyched about her hideaway in the clouds. “Weather permitting, she asks me to lower the ladder most days after school and most weekends,” he says of the structure, accessible by a custom 4-sided ladder that he created for additional safety. “She’ll usually go up and down a few times, getting things she or her friends forgot. We keep the walkie talkie up there, and a basket on a long cord, so they can put in snack orders.”
The kindergartener has outfitted her tree house with pillows, blankets and a few of her favorite things, too. “She’s quite into fairies and gnomes at the moment,” he says. “Several of them live up there, and have little houses she’s made for them from different things. They have adventures exploring the yard, then go back up to the tree to stay safe.”
Safety has been dad’s No. 1 priority. “I often tell people I would’ve been done a lot sooner if I hadn’t worried about safety — my own as much as my daughter’s.” The first summer he worked on it, he did nothing more than putting the main beams in place.
Still, the dad embraces his daughter’s adventurousness and lets her literally fall down and pick herself back up to learn her own strength. She’ll come to me and ask, ‘Can I climb to the top of that playground thing?’” he says. “I’ll say, ‘Well, do you think you can? What part is going to be hard about it? And are you willing to take the risk you might fall? How badly will you get hurt if you do?’” Actively avoiding telling her she “can’t” do something, he says he and his wife try to talk with the daredevil about things and work them out together. “She weighs risks now, and sure, like a lot of kids, she’s fallen,” he adds. “But she hasn’t hurt herself badly, I think, because she’s hurt herself just a little bit, quite often. And I’m there to pick up the pieces when it happens.”
His little girl, after all, is his everything. “I get a lot of ribbing about how nice it must be to sip scotch up there or what-have-you,” he says of the tree house project. “But I would never have done this for myself. It’s a special spot for my daughter, and when she shares it with me and we get to play up there together, I’m the luckiest guy in the world.”