Meet Jim Parker. He's best grandpa ever. Why, you ask? Because he built his grandkids an amazing tree house.
Jim lives in Texas, is an air force vet, a husband, and the best grandpa ever. He has no formal training in construction, but he does have a civil engineering degree. While dating his now wife in college, Jim worked for his now father-in-law’s industrial construction projects. As a side project, he helped his friend build fruit stands for the local supermarket chain, ATB. He says it grew into a kind of miniature business for him.
His construction skills gained a deeper purpose after he read a magazine article one day in a waiting room. It was about "helicopter parenting," and how it can make kids sheltered: so afraid to fail that they sometimes avoid taking chances that would be beneficial for them to take. Jim never wanted his grandkids to be afraid of failing.
So he decided to build them a tree house.
He says he only had a small house in mind at first. But when his son-in-law suggested a zip line, Jim knew that a zip line would help his grandkids face their fears even better than a tree house alone. “Our goal was to have them face their fears, not have them realized,” he says.
So he did some research. He found Treehouse Supplies, and started talking with Scott, our tree house design guru. Scott helped him pick out our 8’ octagon platform, and he and his son-in-law had it built in no time.
“Because I’m a civil engineer and I know how painful it is to build something that isn’t secure, your website made me feel confident that my structure would be safe. Once I got the platform up, we had a lot of fun with the kids,” Jim says.
Jim estimates that each of his two granddaughters went down the 250-foot zip line 120 times each during their one-month stay with him this past April.
“They started off with a little fear. But by the end, they would climb up that 20 foot ladder without hesitation,” Jim says.
With the platform and zip line complete, Jim set his sights on a treehouse. “The next step was to look on your website and figure it out,” Jim says. “I have two trees I thought would be great for a platform. I needed to pick the right one. Your tabs gave me great confidence that I could put serious weight on the thing.”
After building the platform, and the treehouse on top of it, Jim built the stairs. Then, his sister-in-law paid a visit and asked where the rope bridge was. So he bought a bridge kit from Treehouse Supplies, and installed it.
The structure was finally complete after a fresh coat of green paint on the treehouse. Jim says that determination, and taking one step at a time are what got him through it. “Whatever time you think it’s going to take, triple it. You’re learning and solving problems as you go,” he says.
In December, he and his wife had a big family gathering, and Jim’s tree house was a big hit. “It was extremely rewarding to see them having that much fun,” he says.
Jim says his favorite part of the whole process is witnessing the joy his work has brought his family.
His 3-year-old granddaughter watched as her older cousins went down the zip line one by one. “Next thing you know, every time I turn around she’s standing on the platform waiting for her turn,” says Jim.
Jim says the “spend-o-meter” has to slow down for now with regard to tree house building, but he’s excited that his grandkids have a place to play, have fun, and face their fears.