NZ Woman's Weekly

Jeremy Corbett: Hold the fort!

Jeremy Corbett: Hold the fort!

Jeremy Corbett

I like a hut. I have ruined several wonderful days of family hut building by taking over construction, being too strict with the building codes, and insisting on compliance and pillow resource consents.

But I can’t help it – I enjoy a good hut.

At least I used to: I still get absorbed in design and construction, and I’m still very strict on my subbies doing top blanket and cushion work, but somehow in the years between my childhood and my child’s childhood, things have changed and a good hut no longer provides the level of comfort and wolf-protection it used to.

The technical issue causing the problems is that my child-like mind is now housed in something enormous and completely inflexible.

These days when a fort is completed, my daughter immediately insists that I join her in her new abode. There’s usually some urgency in the request as a dragon, wolf or foot-monster will invariably be bearing down on us.

I then have to go through the agonising process of bending, crawling and crouching in ways that my body has long ago dismissed as impractical.

It complains, groans and stabs me with aches as I share a cup of tea or a book in my girl’s new house.

My daughter just doesn’t see the problem. It’s beautifully uncomplicated – if she can fit, so can I. Why am I not fitting?

“Come in, Dad! Sit here,” she says, motioning in the direction of the smallest corner of her tiny domicile. It’s like inviting a rhinoceros into a mini, then suggesting it sit in the glove box.

Kids have wonderful imaginations and I never want to inhibit that, but couldn’t they appreciate the reality of a 1.9m dad with an obese BMI trying to tuck his feet into the delicate structure protecting everyone from the enemy?

The solution has been a revelation: Today, after several minutes of encouragement from my three-year-old,

I attempted to fit into the latest construction. Sadly, I could not find the joints I used to have and my body would not go into the hut.

With a heavy heart I decided I would tell my daughter the truth, knowing it would tear asunder the alternate reality we were gleefully playing in.

“I’m sorry, Charlie, but my legs just won’t fit inside. I have to leave them out there.” I’d like to say there was a pause. It felt like it deserved a pause, but there wasn’t. She just said, “Okay. Tea?”

Initially I was disappointed it wasn’t more of a moment, and troubled that my daughter seemed unconcerned my legs may be burnt off by a fire-breathing lizard, but those anxieties passed when I realised I could enjoy pain-free hutting!

In fact, my child is so relaxed about the definition of being “inside” that all I need to do now is poke my head in under the corner of the sheet.

Huts have never been so much fun!

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