The Elephant Fort

I was not always the most well behaved child growing up.

Shocking, I know, but it’s true. Sometimes I could be downright mischievous (though never truly “bad”). And though I’ve never been a good liar (honestly, I’m terrible at it) I can be quite good at avoiding the truth (I blame this on my writer’s blood).

There is no greater example of this than my Mother’s Elephant Figurines.

When I was five I was playing in the house with my then best friend, Theo. We were pretending to be explorers and were scouting the house for places to hide from The Bad Guys (always capitalized, never actually named). Of course the perfect spot just happened to be my parent’s living room behind the couch. After all, the couches had a semi-floral print which kinda worked as a jungle and it was far away from the babysitting kids who all occupied the family room. The only problem was we were completely exposed from the top. The Bad Guys could just look down and find us in an instant.

So naturally we had to build a fort.

We grabbed one of the green blankets (obviously green makes the best tree top canopy) and set to work. At first we tried a sloped fort, with the blanket just hanging off the couch and touching the ground, but it just kept slumping in and didn’t work at all. Then we tried anchoring it with He-Man’s castle.

That also failed.

Finally, frustrated by the failures, I spotted the perfect anchors. My Mother’s elephant figurines, perched perfect and waiting on the windowsill right by the couch. Theo was nervous but I insisted. They were brilliant, heavy enough to hold down the fort and small enough that we didn’t have to move things around on the windowsill.

And then everything went to hell.

I don’t know if Theo stood up too quickly or if I accidentally hit the blanket while gesturing wildly but whatever the reason the fort collapsed and with the falling blanket came the elephants, gravity pulling them quickly to the floor where they hit He-Man’s castle and then bounced on to the vent, breaking in several places.

We both stared in shock and a bit of terror.

Theo just turned and looked at me. Clearly I was going to have to fix this.

I whispered harshly at him to stand guard and I headed calmly into the family room for supplies, knowing exactly what needed to be done. I returned quickly, sweat across my brow and eyes darting nervously, listening for my Mom to see if she was going to check up on us soon.

Armed with white glue and a grey Crayola marker I performed an expert surgery, putting the larger pieces of the elephants back together and colouring in the chipped surfaces and white lines. It was remarkable.

We folded the blanket, put the elephants back on the windowsill, and vacuumed the spot (the sound of the vacuum alerted my Mom, but I told her I was playing Cinderella, a game I often played) before calmly heading back downstairs to play with the Lego. We didn’t discuss the elephants for a long time.


See if you can spot the glue lines.

Our forgery wasn’t discovered until more than a year later when my Mom had actually inspected the elephants (either brought on by Mother’s intuition or just trying to show them to one of her friends). By then the grey Crayola markings had faded a bit and a smidgen of clear glue was visible along the leg of one of the elephants. At first my Mom was furious and when she asked me directly about the elephants I just couldn’t lie (not for lack of trying).

I confessed completely, telling her everything about the fort, the devastation, and finally the repair job.

Her anger faded away.

How had I, a very young child, managed to repair these elephants so well that the damage went so long without being discovered? They had endured multiple dustings and several instances of repositioning and no one had noticed a thing.

My Mom was in awe.

To do this day she still displays the elephants proudly, eager to tell friends and family about their destruction and repair.

Still, I never used another one of my Mother’s collectibles to anchor another fort.