Structural Integrity , a Duplo Story


Last night, I was stacking Duplo blocks with my son. He’s three now and will turn four in May. As I was interlocking blocks of various size to form a U-shaped wall, he was stacking 2×2 bricks several dozen high, and his towers kept on collapsing.

After a few tumbled, he asked, “Daddy, why does it keep falling down?”

Without a skipping a beat, I replied, “Because it lacks Structural Integrity.”

I’m not sure if that constituted good parenting or bad parenting. I replied quickly. I was direct. I told the truth. But I wasn’t actually helping.

Not yet.

I figured that was the day he should learn about the power of integrated stacking. I don’t even know if that’s what the system of building is called, but it’s the way bricks are laid, and it’s the way that I’ve stack blocks for at least the last 30 years (and it is strange that I don’t know what the actual term is called, but you’ll get the idea from the picture).

He was flustered at first that I intervened with his own method, but once his new tower got 20 layers high, he was pretty happy. At that point, we started testing it. We slapped it; we hit it with other bricks, but the tower stood. He kept stacking; we kept testing. It kept standing. We celebrated; we laughed. As playtime ended, he was able to knock it over only after a focused and concerted effort on his part. He seemed surprised when it finally happened. I think he was beginning to believe it could not be knocked over. I think he learned something.

I hope he wants to stack Duplo tomorrow.

I hope I can reinforce the lesson.

I hope that as he continues to grow, I always remain amazed by his capacity to learn. I am so proud of that boy. I do love him so.

I am very grateful to be a dad.

My son’s photo, using me as a reference for scale.