Treehouses are not generally considered essential for life. Most people do not use them as a primary home, but rather as a temporary getaway. Practically speaking, they are not the most efficient structures we can build. They are generally less energy efficient because the floor is exposed to variable weather. Treehouses take more time and money to build than an equivalently designed and outfitted ground house. Most kids grow up just fine without a treehouse in the backyard. In fact, many kids grow up just fine without a backyard at all. So what inspires us to build treehouses?
Treehouses create a sense of wonder in our hearts when we see them. Even simple treehouses are amazing, not because of detailed construction or expensive materials, but because of what treehouses represent to us. When you build a treehouse, you share that wonder with everyone around you. The kids are known at school as the kids with the really cool treehouse. Throw wine and cheese parties on an arboreal perch connected to your back deck by a rope bridge, and you are thought of as eccentric and young-at-heart. And when Dad is sent out to the “doghouse” (complete with a minifridge, a poker table, cable, and Wi-Fi), it just isn’t all that bad anymore!
When parents take the time to build a treehouse with the kids, they are building relationships just as much as a physical structure. The treehouse becomes something the kids use for years and then later reminisce about as a place where they spent time with Mom, Dad, or their grandparents.
Our whole perspective on life changes when we sit in a tree. We’re confidently doing something that mystifies most people who are stuck on the ground. As adults we can enjoy the breeze and swing in a hammock, releasing the cares of our workday. Something happens to kids when they get at least 6 feet into the air, too, because they become taller than adults and escape the reach of their parents and consequently feel greater freedom than just going to their room and shutting the door.
So, you see, what we are building is not just a structure in a tree. We are building memories, expressing creativity, connecting with nature, escaping from the confines of regular daily life, using our imagination, and realizing that every dream in this life is possible.