The Haunted Tree House

PFG KidsOne day, many years ago, I told my kids I would build them a tree house. I knew I had construction skills that would allow me to build the best fort in the neighborhood. Of course I was going to do it the following week, but something came up, and right after that, I had a big project at work. I put it off for another month, because my paychecks were a little too tight. I woke up one morning and realized three of my four children were grown and had moved out of my house, and the last one was in high school and the tree house days had vanished. I think they would all agree that this was one of their biggest disappointments from childhood. How could I be so callous? What kind of monster would make a promise to innocent little people and then break it… over and over? Yeah, that would be me.

Out of all the stupid things I have done during my life, this is at the top of my list of regrets. I never thought something so small would kick me in the teeth this hard, but I have been haunted by this procrastinated event for years. My brain has tried hundreds of ways to justify my bad behavior, but my excuses are all lies. I want to make it up to them, but it is too late, the golden window of opportunity has passed me by.PFG Kids 2

Don’t get me wrong; I have some wonderful memories with my kids. When Melanie was little, I used to let her steer the car in the parking lot while standing on my lap and she was so proud of herself. Afterward she would give me the biggest hug and for just a little while, all was right in the universe. I remember playing hide and seek with Reva and miss the sound of his laughter and stomping feet as he would try to run away from me chasing him around the house on my hands and knees. He would usually end up in the arms of his mother as I tickled his fat little legs. And the tea parties with Melissa were epic. She would take care to let each of her dolls take a sip, and then let me take a turn tipping the teacup. Christopher, started smiling when riding on my shoulders, and he has never stopped. He always wanted me to watch to see how fast he could gallop around the yard on his fictitious horse, fighting bad guys. Sadly, all those days are gone and I am faced with the reality of my successes and failures as a father. I can’t go back and change the past, but I can embrace the present.

My role as a father is not over, I still have much to do, but it is different. Now, it’s offering moral support, helping with an English paper, buying some gas, or giving unwanted counsel about life. I can’t imagine my life without my kids, they are so part of me, but they are individuals. I am proud of each of them in a different way. One piece of advice I can offer from my journey is, enjoy the small moments, stop from your busy day and have a conversation with your kids while they still want to talk with you, and most importantly… don’t have a haunted tree house.


  1. wieland says:

    Thanks for sharing what most fathers can relate too. You’re a good man Paul, and a great father!