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Devlyn Brooks, Published October 05 2010

Parenting Perspectives: Backyard discovery’s off the wall

On Sunday, I discovered that I have a climbing wall in my backyard. Well, OK, a section of a climbing wall … a big section.

I found it while I was working in the backyard, doing all the usual fall yard work, when I wandered close to my oldest son’s fort that was erected this summer behind the gardening shed. Admittedly, it had been a while since I strolled back there. I ceded the territory to the neighborhood kids this spring when they asked if they could build a fort.

But as I peered in over the top of a wall on Sunday, I was astounded at their industriousness. Using the back of the shed as one wall and scavenged plywood sheets for the other walls and the roof, they had built a formidable shelter.

There were chairs – or portions of chairs, depending upon how you look at it, a wall lined with shelves filled with all kinds of imaginable treasures that 12-year-old boys would find interesting, a makeshift table and who knows what else.

But the pièce de résistance was stacked against the shed … a section of climbing wall standing nearly 6 feet tall. I had no idea from where it came, and no idea how the boys transported it there.

The section looked substantial enough, sturdy, well-constructed. It wasn’t something they had built on-site. But where did they get it?

These are 12-year-olds whose only mode of transportation is bicycles and who have reasonable restrictions as to how far they can wander when playing together.

But somehow they managed to transport in a 6-by-4-foot section of climbing wall right underneath my nose. I couldn’t help but think of the Disney Channel show “Phineas and Ferb,” during which each episode the boy characters create these unbelievably complex machines such as rocket ships, time-travel machines or miniature ray guns all the while they’re parents are blissfully ignorant to their feats of engineering.

“Dear Lord,” I thought, “my life is mimicking a cartoon.”

So I called to my son, Garrett, who was working in the front yard.

“Yeah, Dad,” he said, strolling to where I was standing at the fort.

“OK, I’m going to ask you something, and it’s very important how you answer,” I said. “Do you understand?”


“Good. Now, you have a climbing wall in your fort, which, more importantly, is in MY backyard,” I said. “Did it get here legally or illegally? … Now think about your answer.”

I had carefully constructed this question in the hopes that I could maintain plausible deniability.

“Legally,” he answered slowly, giving me one of those preteen “whatever” looks. “It came from … .”

“Ahh … stop right there,” I said. “That’s all I want to know.”

Devlyn Brooks works for Forum Communications Co. and lives in Moorhead with his two sons. He blogs at www.areavoices.com/singledad.