Brick By Brick


“I used to believe my father about everything but then I had children myself & now I see how much stuff you make up just to keep yourself from going crazy.”

Brian Andreas

I am a mere apprentice. Each day I wake up, hoping to become a little better at my craft than I was the day before. Some days I feel as if I laid a brick perfectly. Other days I am aware of the fact that I wasn’t even close.

But here is the thing. Once you lay a brick down and add some mortar, it’s there for good. It may not be straight and it may not be smooth. But it’s there. Alongside the bricks that were laid before it and waiting for the next brick that will be laid beside it.

And I am finally coming to grips with the fact that the foundation that I am building for my children will not be perfect. I am going to make many mistakes along the way. What matters most is that I continue to lay bricks as best I can. There is no off-season. Spring training? Well, sort of. Although some may argue that the first few months of parenthood are the most difficult.

I think the point that I am trying to make is that being a parent is the most difficult job there is. You always feel as if you could be doing better. Just like the wall above, you look at your child(ren) and you can see your handiwork.

Or can you?

At first glance, the wall above appears to be the result of shoddy craftsmanship. But is it really? I bet that wall is stronger than it looks. I bet it could withstand a mighty blow. Maybe it already has. Yes, the bricks aren’t all square and some of them even protrude. There even seem to be places where the mortar was just haphazardly slapped on.

Don’t you want to know why the wall looks the way it does?

It is because sometimes life gets in the way of Life. Sometimes parents are doing the best they can. And at first they are even hesitant to lay just one brick. But they know they must. So together they take the brick in their hands. Not altogether sure what to do next. Yet knowing they must do something. They lay it down. No mortar needed yet. Then comes the second brick. This time mortar is required. It looked easier in the manual. But the manual doesn’t have hands. And the manual can’t lay bricks.

After a while though. What began as one brick is now beginning to take the shape of a wall. It seems almost incomprehensible. There were days when laying a brick didn’t seem possible. That first night home from the hospital when it didn’t seem like the crying would ever stop. But it did. That brick was a little crooked. Nevertheless, it stuck and it stayed.

Then there was the time he came home with a question you didn’t know the answer to. As a single mom you were doing the best you can. This brick got dropped. But you knew you couldn’t stop and so you added it to the wall. Knowing it would stand. And yet while it may not have matched, it made the wall stronger. Like each brick before it and like each brick thereafter.

Eventually though there comes a day when you allow yourself to take a step back and look at what you have created. It is at this point that you realize that the wall you have created. may just be the most magnificent thing you have ever seen.

You notice that there is still room for just a few more bricks.

But you are no longer an apprentice. These last few bricks will be chosen carefully and they will be placed perfectly. But not just yet. Not today. You still have time to admire the wall you have helped build. Brick by brick.



  1. Jon,

    Thank you. As always, you make me reflect on my own parenting – and how it’s not quite perfect – but that my two masterpieces make me so proud. I also think about those parents who do the best bricklaying they can with the resources they have available. Sometimes, as educators, we may judge that they should do better, but perhaps what we may need to do is offer to help with laying the next brick.

  2. Jon,

    Great post and a reminder to parents and educators alike…the wall may not be perfect, but it doesn’t have to be. What’s important is to keep on laying those bricks!! Hopefully the walls we build will help our children and our students weather the storms of life. Thanks for the reminder:)


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