Sometime this summer Briar and Avery hit their stride, no longer divided by vocabulary or agility, they play together. The play structure or, compound, as certain neighbors refer to it, has become a stage of sorts. The girls will play, becoming so engrossed that they forget I am there. Watching them run up the rock wall and scampering about on the platform, I find myself standing grinning like a fool. It was so much work, watching the girls while Sean worked 10 hour weekend day after 10 hour weekend day to build it. And the grief we’ve taken:

From: Jackson
Date: May 27, 2008 3:27:20 PM EDT
To: Sean
Subject: “LET’S PLAY WALL”

The Chinese have nothing on you guys. With all this terrorism, I think it’s important to build a wall v/s a fence. This way, you keep out all those suspicious looking Muslims in our neighborhood. I think, it’s also good that your children never see anything but their own yard. Your world is their world– period. You get to mold them the way you want. And for God’s sake, keep the space small so they can’t run. It’s all about dicipline!!! Jj

And then there was this one:

From: Jackson
Date: July 10, 2008 3:15:34 PM EDT
To: Sean

Nice fortress. Grant would be proud of you– even though he’s a couple of streets away. I particularly like the tower. This way you can see them coming. Take no chances. I noticed they got the duck before you could get him in the compound. Must have been the middle of the night. Get floodlights!! Stand guard 24/7 !!!
Look if all else fails, you can hold tours. Shave your head like so and so (name changed) and dress the kids like racoons. Before you know it Fort William Henry will be out of business. However, beware. Your fort is made of wood and just down the street is…Stonewall himself

So, for all the flack we’ve taken, it’s nice to know that the girls enjoy it. Lately the game of choice has been a modern-day twist on Rapunzel. Briar runs with a princess towel on her head as Rapunzel, then she scales the wall and goes down the slide. The slide, of course, puts her under a deep spell which only “true love’s kiss” can undo. Lacking a proper prince, she knights Avery as her prince. Avery is happy enough to comply if she can perform her daredevil-swing-from-the-top-of-the-slide-super-slide routine before planting true love’s kiss and more on Briar.

Here is a bit of unedited footage taken while the girls played oblivious to my presence. What you need to know is this is the fourth take. Briar seems to have accepted that you have to pay to play. The pay off comes in the last second of the clip.