The wooden brick tower stands firm

Child and I are about to play

 I explain the game

“We need to take a block from here and place it here,

      without knocking the tower down”

I run a finger over the wooden blocks, smoothly, slowly, gently

Child watches

 “It’s like making choices,” I explain

 “It’s best to check out the options

Carefully, slowly”

As my finger moves a block responds, it shifts just enough

Child catches breath

What might happen if I make that choice?

Slowly the block is encouraged from its place in the stack

and added to the top layer

“Sometimes the right thing to do is really clear”

Child nods understanding


Child follows adult in the same way

Uncertain as the brick moves

Gently, gently, the decision is made

The deed done

I speak soft again

“Making the right choices doesn’t stop bad things from happening”

Child eyes meet mine

“It’s sad when bad things happen

and bad things do happen to good people”

We play on in a study of breathless pauses, choices, risk taking

Until the stack is honeycombed and no easy option remains


I speak soft again

“Sometimes, the decision is not so easy

We have to choose to do nothing

or to do the next best thing

even though it’s risky and might get messy”

I remove a brick that has others resting upon it

the whole stack wobbles

But it holds


Child hesitates

I’ve made the game harder to play

Making tough decisions is something mature people have to do

What we want to do and what is right, are not always the same thing

Child presses a brick

The whole tower shifts

The move is abandoned

We both giggle nervously

Another is completed successfully

My turn is not

The crash is deafening, shocking, but also exciting


Together we rebuild the tower

“Of course this is just a game and we can rebuild it

Not all crashes are so easy to put right

Especially when they are wrong choices made in the wrong way”

I tell of the girl who hit another with a hockey stick, too high, too hard,

It broke her knee cap.

She had been a promising dancer but after being hit that way

She never danced again

No sorry could fix that

“It wasn’t an accident,

There was anger behind the hit

A choice was made,

The wrong choice made in the wrong way

The injury stayed forever

So did Regret

When we really try our best,

Follow the rules as best we can,

Stick to what we know to be right,

When we treat others the way we’d like to be treated

We stay whole and complete inside

It’s called Integrity”

Child knows anger

Child knows wrong choices

Child knows better now

The seed is sown

We must wait for deeper roots


We build another tower

Play another game

Words and pictures © Denise Stanford

~ by Denise Within the Vine on 16/03/2010.

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