Monday, December 9, 2013

Legos to the Rescue

It is Monday, but I am feeling refreshed after a mostly peaceful weekend. Sunday was especially therapeutic, despite, or because, I spent most of the day searching for random Lego pieces.

I don't know how most families store their Legos. I know when my brothers and I were children, all of our Lego bricks, tens of thousands of them, were kept in a bed sheet folded in the corners, then tied Tom Sawyer-style. This is, I think, my mom's invention and is, actually quite genius. Whenever we wanted to build Legos she would just untie the sheet and we had a ready-made play surface. Then, when we done, she would just tie the sheet up, and the Legos would pick themselves up.

But throwing all the Lego pieces together into one giant pile is more appropriate in a day and age when the Legos were just bricks. Nowadays, the Legos are more like models than raw building materials, and the pieces are incredibly specialized. I won't get into whether I think this is an evolution in Lego or a devolution. I can understand how this specialization and the need to follow a booklet of directions an inch thick might be perceived as depriving kids of the opportunity to build more free form and creatively. But I think the models are cool, and following directions can teach, too. Especially to Pete and Sam. Not that they have trouble following directions, but a little practice never hurt. I think it teaches them engineering skills and manual dexterity. Plus, despite his present infatuation with Chima, a land of talking animals who fight over a mystical substance not unlike Austin Powers' mojo called "chi" or "chai", I'm not sure which, he still builds amazingly abstract and beautiful buildings. I hope he is an architect someday, because he makes me wonder why there can't be more creativity in modern architecture. Why do all buildings have to cubes?

Since the Legos are more like models and the pieces are so specialized, it becomes essential to keep the sets separate. If you want to construct the model, then disassemble it, then re-assemble it again, as these boys want to do, then it becomes very important that all the pieces stay together and none get lost. To this end, I bought each model a plastic bin from Target to live in.

When the boys went to Washington last summer to visit Ma and Granddad, I dumped all of their Legos onto the living room floor and rebuilt all the Legos, so all the right pieces could be in the right box. This took me a week to do. Okay, it was kind of silly to spend a week while my kids were out of town building Legos, but they did get a kick out of seeing my progress on Skype.

Eventually, the pieces did get mixed up again after their return to some extent, but for the most part, the models stayed separated until we packed out of our corporate temporary housing. For some reason, I did not think to tape the plastic bins shut.

I wasn't home when our air shipment with most of our toys from DC arrived in India, but according to Elise their was at least one giant cardboard box filled with random Legos. Of course, all the bins popped open in transit and all the Legos were reunited and had one big party somewhere over the North Atlantic.

Some might think it ridiculous to ask the American taxpayer to fly our Legos to us, but I would challenge those persons to live with three children five and under in a house with no toys for three weeks and see how much they would be willing to pay for toys.

When the Legos did arrive, Sam spent one entire day, from sun up to sun down, building Legos. Sunday was spent in much the same way. Both Sam and Pete want me to build Legos with them...which really means they want me to find pieces for them. Nothing more. Of course, many of the models were now missing pieces and both Sam and Peter asked me to locate for them incredibly tiny, incredibly specialized pieces in specific colors. Normally, I would demure, citing the improbability of successfully finding the piece. Literally, it is like looking for a needle in a haystack. But I humored Sam the first time and, to my amazement, I found the piece he was looking for at the bottom of another bin. So, when asked again, I again accepted the challenge and again succeeded. I found three more pieces this way, proving that no matter how ridiculous a request from one of your kids may seem initially, sometimes it pays off to just say yes, when your initial inclination might have been to say no. 

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