‘My husband and I wanted to try something different. The best part? We did it as a family.’: Parents bond with sons by building rock wall

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“My boys are close in age but different in many ways. While one brother loves toys and can play on his own, his twin has no interest in toys and would much rather garden, build, and drink hot chocolate.  Their little brother is extremely independent and has the best sense of humor.

As different as they all are, one thing remains the same.

They all have energy. Endless energy, in fact.

When the time comes to decide what to get for birthdays or Christmas, we usually purchase three separate things. Pokémon cards or action figures for one boy, gardening tools for his twin, and maybe a soccer ball for their younger brother. These gifts are mostly short-lived and last a couple of weeks. One year, my husband and I wanted to try something different. We wanted to find something they would all be interested in and would last for years.

This was not an easy task. Does a toy exist they would all like, much less all play with? This was going to be a challenge.

My husband and I knew half the fun would be for all of them to share an experience. We sat down and discussed our ideas.

‘We know one of our boys loves to build so why not build something together? We know they have more energy than we have after drinking three cups of coffee. We also know in the wintertime and rainy days, they have so much energy they can climb the walls. Wait! What if we made it so they could literally climb the walls?’ my husband wondered.

After scrolling the web and researching our options, we came up with something hopefully they all would love.

A rock wall.

We sat down to discuss this idea with the boys. We planned out what materials we would need and where to place the rock wall. We chose a spot in the basement that could be their corner. We took them all to Lowes (okay, so maybe I sat with the youngest in the car) where they picked out the plywood they would need.  They decided on the climbing holds and ordered them online.

Courtesy Melissa Burnett

We sanded the plywood in the garage. My husband screwed the two-by-fours into the studs and hung the plywood from the studs. I do recall dropping a piece of plywood on my toe as we were moving it from the garage to the basement, so be careful! The reality of a project with little ones is you learn along the way. Be patient with yourself — or go into a room and curse quietly, like I did and move on.

Courtesy Melissa Burnett

The boys helped screw in the climbing holds. They decided where to place the holds and had so much fun taking turns.  After the climbing holds were complete, my husband and I carefully (with no injury this time) screwed the plywood onto the two-by-fours. We could have made the rock wall fancy with background scenes and colors, but we decided to set reasonable expectations for our first project. There are a lot of great resources online for these projects that go into detail about the plan you want to build for your family.

Courtesy Melissa Burnett

The boys were ecstatic when the rock wall was ready to use. After a safety talk, they climbed most of the day away. I still spotted all of them whenever they climbed. It is so neat to see, over the years, how the boys gained confidence and skills, climbing higher and higher.

Courtesy Melissa Burnett

Do we still spend hours a day climbing the rock wall? Not quite. However, the boys still climb and use the wall a couple of times a week. Especially during winter or on a rainy day when I need them to get their energy out. I can always tell them, ‘If you need to find something to do, the rock wall is a choice.’

We can now say our kids literally climb the wall. And the best part? We made the rock wall as a family. I’m not only grateful to finally find a gift they all enjoy but thankful we had those moments as a family to make it happen.”

Courtesy Melissa Burnett

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Melissa Burnett, 39, of Columbus, Ohio. Visit her website here.  Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

Read more stories from Melissa here: 

‘Are you going to try for a girl?’ I already had 3 boys. Strangers asked me this over and over again for years.’: Mom of 3 boys suffers miscarriage, ‘It showed us what unconditional love is really about’

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