We have a treehouse in our backyard. J. and some of the children built it over the course of two summers. They designed it together, poured the concrete footings together, and garbage-picked some of the materials together. It has been played in pretty constantly since it was built...although I feel a lot better about it since the railings went up. And, it looks like a kid's treehouse.
A month or two ago, some builders started work in the backyard across the alley from us. As we watched the progress of what they were building (from the vantage point of our treehouse, of course), we realized that it was also a treehouse. To use the term "treehouse" for both structures doesn't seem quite right. It is the same feeling I get when I have to use the word "dog" to describe both a chihuahua and a great Dane....same general animal, but a completely different breed. We watched in wonder as the treehouse was constructed. Well, wonder doesn't quite describe the emotions we experienced....dumbfounded may come closer as the cedar shakes went on, followed by out-right disgust as the insulated windows (which really look much nicer than any window in our house) were installed.
And if I am quite honest with myself, perhaps a touch of jealousy that I can't have as nice a treehouse built for my own children. But this feeling doesn't really last for very long. You see, the ironic thing about this treehouse of our neighbors is that it was built for children we didn't even know existed. Seriously, I had no idea any children, much less three of them, lived in that house. The actual children have been spotted exactly one time playing in their very nicely designed and constructed treehouse. (I know this because many of my children are practicing their snooping skills so as to be the next Mrs. Cravits of Bewitched fame. Our treehouse does provide a very nice post from which much of our block can be seen.)
So, I have decided it is much, much better for my children to have a treehouse that they helped build and in which they actually play, than it is to have the designer model which holds no memories and in which there is no time to play. Plus, I find the juxtaposition of the two endlessly amusing.