Smelly Socks: The hideout of his dreams

By Johanna Bloom
April 11, 2013 at midnight
Updated April 10, 2013 at 11:11 p.m.

Jamison on the balcony of his very own hideout.

Jamison on the balcony of his very own hideout.

Ranch Life

When you are young, your heart is filled with many dreams; some are realistic, but most are simply out of reach.

When I was little, my heart's true desire was a playhouse. I wanted a playhouse that I could spend my time in imagining all sorts of domestic and romantic situations just like in the grownup world. Several girls my age had playhouses and we would spend hours imaging all kinds of wonderful things only young children can come up with.

One lucky little girl even had a two-story playhouse, which brought things to a whole new level. My parents were more practical about such things. They understood that I would enjoy a playhouse, but other things were much more of a necessity.

I am happy to say that although I grew up without the benefit of a playhouse of my own, I did manage to have a fulfilled childhood, and I suffered no ill effects.

But tree houses and grandchildren are a whole different religion. Jamison, my youngest son, has devoured the "The Magic Tree House" book series by Mary Pope Osborne. He just can't get enough of them, and he has read nearly every book in the series and has reread many of them.

I thought it was the historical references that he liked so much in the books, but I was so very wrong. Jamison loved the magical theme and Annie and Jack's special tree house in the books. These special books empower the young reader by letting them travel anywhere in a simple tree house just by using their imagination.

Jamison's quest for a tree house even exceeded my childhood perseverance for a playhouse. When asked what he wanted for his birthday, he would sweetly say, "All I want. All I really need is a tree house of my very own." For two years straight, he convinced everyone that tree house was the one thing lacking in his life.

He even promised to share his tree house with his older brother, which was quite an accomplishment for the younger brother in a normal brother relationship. At that point, we all realized he was downright desperate. I felt for him, and I understood his anguish, but like my parents before me, I knew the tree house was not going to happen.

Jamison not getting the answer he wanted from his parents decided to take his plight up to a higher authority. He then presented his case to the great and powerful grandparents. Mimi and Popsy stepped in and took over. Popsy carefully spoke and said, "Well, of course, every little boy wants and needs a tree house. Come over here and let's sit down and design it." They actually got together and had a tree house business meeting of sorts.

At their initial development meeting, Jamison and his grandparents drew plans for the ultimate tree house. Considering that no tree was deemed perfect enough or large enough for the ultimate tree house, things had to be modified slightly. The tree house was given legs and became freestanding.

So Jamison's tree house took a detour, and it became Jamison's hideout. He was pleased with the "hideout" title which he thought was "very cool" sounding, and although it was not in a tree, he was completely satisfied. This masterpiece was complete with a balcony, electricity, windows and a door.

After several weeks of planning, sawing, hammering, bracing, re-sawing and more bracing, Jamison's hideout was finished and he was in little boy heaven. It may not be perfect, but you cannot convince Jamison of that. He is on top of the world when he and his dog are sprawled out on the balcony imaging they are on adventures.

Nearly every day after school, I hear Austin and Jamison whispering and off they run to the hideout for a little homework break. Yes, I am pleased that he kept his promise to his brother and let Austin enjoy the hideout, too. He has all kinds of plans for elaborate decorations, and I am afraid we are going to end up with a little boy's version of the Biltmore mansion.

Gradually, Jamison's feet began to touch the ground, and he got the grand idea that he was going to spend the night, all by himself, in his mansion on stilts. As soon as it got dark, John, Austin, Jamison and I, all ended up sitting in the balcony watching the many stars. About 30 minutes later, and many satellites moving across the night sky later, we all decided it was time to go inside and get tucked into bed.

Ranch life is wonderful, and it is a treat to be able to look up in the sky without being distracted by city lights. This scene is particularly nice for a little boy to do this from his very own hideout balcony. But as the adventures of the day wound down, there is no place like the comfort of your own bed and being surrounded by all your familiar comforts.

Grandparents and their grandchildren have a bond that is often unspoken but always understood. Something happens to your parents as they become grandparents. Suddenly, little things become much more important to them.

They listen carefully to their grandchildren's hearts, and do their best to keep from breaking them. Jamison and Austin are blessed to have their Mimi and Popsy.

Seeing my little boys smile, laugh, and talk as they push their dogs - their huge lab, Jasper and the tiny Mighty Thor - inside their hideout makes me realize that John and I are equally blessed to have Mimi and Popsy.

Johanna is a proud seventh-generation Texan. She lives on her family's South Texas ranch with her husband and two lively boys. Email Johanna Bloom or Anita Spisak at



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