Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | March 10, 2011

More Than A Workbench

I recently came across something that I had written in my journal in August 1991 while living in San Antonio, Texas. My own words caused me to stop and to reflect on the past twenty-five plus years of being a parent. A lot has happened during those years. My kids are now grown and deal with entirely different challenges. The things my kids call me about today are bigger than the things we repaired on my workbench when they were growing up. But, I’m glad that they still ask for advice and for help with the challenges that they face today. I hope you enjoy this little nostalgic peek at one of the pages of my journal.
• • • • •

With my son. | India 2010

“Dad. I’m going to put this on your workbench. It needs to be fixed,” said my son Jonathan as he made his way to the garage. “O.K.,” I replied. “I’ll take a look at it a little later.” This quick conversation got me to thinking about my workbench. I’ve had it for several years. When Cheryl and I moved into our first house I found myself with an empty garage. I didn’t have a lawn mower or tools or any of the neat garage-stuff that my neighbors had, and I didn’t have a workbench. “But why would someone as mechanically obnoxious as me need a workbench?,” I asked myself. “If I buy a workbench then I’ll have to buy tools and other workbench-stuff.” No matter. The garage would not seem complete without a workbench. I simply had to have a workbench.

Being a young seminary student with little spare cash and a new mortgage, I decided that it would be cheaper to build a workbench. So the next time my mechanically-gifted brother was in town I asked him if he would build me a workbench. “No problem. Consider it done,” said my brother. I took him to the lumber yard, bought the lumber, and before the day’s end I was the proud owner of a workbench. My brother even bought me a stool for my new workbench. The following week I bought a piece of pegboard and an assortment of pliers and screwdrivers and other miscellaneous workbench-stuff. It all looked great in my garage. I was sure the neighbors would be impressed.

My workbench sat idle for the first few years. I did not have any workbench projects until the kids came along. Now my workbench is the place where my children put whatever they have that needs to be fixed. Every week I find something in need of repair on my workbench. I have performed emergency surgery on many Barbie dolls, reattaching heads and arms and legs. I have replaced the batteries on countless toys. I have glued broken doll furniture and worked on pine wood derby cars. I have even had to give last rights to things beyond repair.

My workbench has become more than a workbench over the years. It has become a symbol in our home. It is a symbol of my kid’s trust in my willingness and ability to help them with their problems. It has, for them, become a symbol of my interest in helping them to repair the things that are important to them. My children are still children and most of their problems fit neatly on my workbench. Most of their problems can be repaired with glue and a pair of pliers or a new set of batteries. However, as they mature they will encounter problems that will no longer fit on my workbench. They will encounter and experience problems that will require more than glue and pliers to repair. When that happens I want for my children to trust me. I want for them to discuss their problems with me. I want for them to know that I am interested in helping them repair the things that are important to them. But if I expect my children to trust me with the bigger and more complex problems they will encounter later in life, I will have to continue helping them with the problems they leave on my workbench today.

So, my workbench is more than a workbench. It is a place where my children and I are building trust with pliers and glue and new sets of batteries — one repair at a time.


  1. Omar,
    Thanks for the story and lessons learned. I had just read this and Kristin sent me an email telling me to read it. Now I have to clean my workbench so it is ready for anything my kids bring my way!

    • Jim…

      I still have the workbench. Now that I can afford to get a really cool workbench I just can’t seem to get rid of the old one because of all of the memories associated with it. So, it looks like the old workbench may be around for me to help grand-kids someday. Blessings to you and Kristin as you guide and nurture Parker and Grace.


  2. Thank you very much, for sharing with us.

    Dhaka, Bangladesh

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