“Back in 2003 we put a big addition on our house. We basically ripped half of our house down! We did most of the deconstruction of the house by ourselves. We had to remind our kids to wear shoes in the kitchen because of all the nails in the floor. It was this whole big, long, torturous process.
When we finally got the appliances, the kids took all the giant boxes into the backyard with about forty pounds of duct tape.
The refrigerator box was the biggest, so they made that the main room. They used cabinet boxes as hallways. It was an absolute maze. It was just the coolest thing.
When it finally got rained on, my husband and I went outside to pick all the stuff up, and inside we found this piece of cardboard. I took it and I said, ‘I’m gonna save this, and someday it’ll be really cool to show them.’ So I threw it in the basement.
I found it recently, and thought: I really need to preserve this. Every time I see it I crack up. I mean, having rules that say, ‘No mocking’?! What little kid even knows that word? My husband and I absolutely died laughing.
This December, I wrapped up the frame and put it behind our Christmas tree. It had all their names on it, which really built up the excitement. The kids were like, ‘What in the world?! Is it a new TV? What is this?’
I wish I had filmed their reaction when they opened the box—the looks on their faces! They sat around and read off all the rules. They were crying and laughing.
Rules of the Fort
1. Don't ever break the club even if you are mad.
2. No yelling, swaring, hitting, kicking, mocking, drawing on people, pushing and pulling hair.
3. Be nice.
4. Try not to fight with others.
5. No saying bad/mean things.
6. Always remember how much fun we had making the club.
7. Always be loveing.
8. Always listen to what people have to say.
9. Never lay down unless people let you.
Lizzy C. - Joe C. - Emma C. - Matt C.
H A V E F U N !
One of the funniest rules that everyone glommed onto at Christmas was the rule that said, ‘Always be loving.’ The older daughter (to the right in the picture) is the worst speller on the planet and she wrote the rules. She wrote the word loving spelled correctly, crossed it out, and then wrote it incorrectly and had all of them sign it.
It's funny to look back and realize that they were having fun while we were pulling our hair out.
I’ll tell you, this gift lasted thirty minutes in the circus that is Christmas morning. They went through each rule, and laughed about why they had to make the rules. There were tears.
You can buy your kids Apple watches. You can spend hundreds of dollars—thousands of dollars. And this silly piece of cardboard brought genuine laughs, and stories, and tears, and reminiscing.
We wanted them to be able to look back at a moment in a summer that meant something to them. It ties together what they remember as one of the greatest summers of their life. To have this framed really allowed us as a family to capture something they felt. You don’t forget about it, but it’s kinda something that gets shoved away while the youngest is off at college, the second one just graduated college, the other one is working.
This boiled it all down to, ‘Do you remember that summer we had the cardboard fort?’”
- Bethany Companga, fort mom and pro gift-giver