Happy New Year. The dust is starting to settle from the holidays and finally the binge eating and drinking can come to a halt as I make shaky promises to myself to stop inhaling cheese and chocolate and reacquaint myself with vegetables.
If you’re lucky, your children are still happily playing with their Christmas gifts and you are giving yourself a pat on the back at your great fortune. Olivia, who was only interested in candy, has taken a casual interest in some gifts but still prefers to grab our phones off of the counter and hide under tables to watch the latest “Johnny Johnny, Yes Papa” videos on YouTube Kids.
Thankfully AJR is still enthralled with his Christmas gifts so it all balances out. I suppose I should clarify. He’s only playing with some of his Christmas gifts. Those gifts being Legos. The only thing on his list that really mattered to him. A desire so deeply instilled within the very fibers of his four-year old being that it caused him to cleverly (and annoyingly) shake each one of this packages before opening it to listen for the telltale sound of Legos sliding around in cardboard. He ain’t got time to open things that aren’t Legos. Socks? Really, Mom? You peasant.
This foray into Lego land started out innocently enough. He received a few Lego sets for his birthday. They were simple, “gateway Lego” sets. Nothing too complicated as we built some simple, yet awesome police helicopters and cars from Disney’s Cars. We worked on them together and AJR thought they were cool, but not anything he was super passionate about.
Then one day something clicked. It all began innocently enough one afternoon in early November. He wanted me to sit with him and put together a Lego Junior’s Fire Truck set. I was in the middle of making lunch and thus occupied, so I opened up the bag, handed him the instructions, and told him to try as best he could to put it together until I could join him. Turns out, he didn’t need me. Not once. And that was the Lego tipping point.
He now spends obsessive hours carefully following what he calls the “constructions” (sigh, can he always say cute things like this?), building what’s on the box, playing with it briefly, and then taking it all apart only to repeat the process. And when I say hours, I mean literal hours. By himself, at the kitchen table, just Lego-ing the day away while I sit in appalled shock. Early on, I, not used to behavior such as this, questioned out loud whether we should encourage the occasional Lego break since it seemed like such an intense use of his focus. Maybe he was spending too much time on Legos and should pursue other interests. Like the 1,000 Hot Wheels cars or hundreds of puzzles currently occupying our downstairs closets. Then I realized I was being an idiot. This is the very thing I had been hoping would eventually happen: that AJR would find an activity that would occupy his time for more than 60 seconds and not involve me as a direct participant.
Mostly, Legos entering our life have been great. It occupies his time, it’s a wonderful fine motor activity, and challenges him to follow direction and pay attention to what he’s doing. That said, Legos can also be really f’ing annoying. First off, can I just talk about how expensive Legos are? Like could he find a less expensive hobby to get interested in? There are sets that cost $150. Sets that come next Christmas I know are going to be on his wish list.
It’s also brought out personality traits in him that on one hand, are great. And on the other…well, I won’t talk too badly about it as I’m pretty sure he got it directly from me. He is a stickler for the construction and will deviate from them in the slightest. Lego intended it to look this way and by golly, AJR is going to see their vision through. This wouldn’t be a problem if we always had every single piece of each Lego set in it’s proper place at all times. As you can imagine, this is a nearly impossible task. At some point, even the most diligent parent is going to lose a Lego piece. Some are more crucial than others, but usually you can sort of keep building without it and not have to worry about jeopardize the overall design. Not in AJR’S world. This is a devastating blow to his creation. He often exasperates “I’m going to be stuck on this part forever!” as he literally cannot get himself past this missing piece to move on to the next page.
For this reason, the lost pieces drive me absolutely crazy. When I hear the inevitable clatter of a Lego hitting the floor my blood runs cold and I yell “EVERYONE STOP WHAT THEY’RE DOING! FIND THAT LEGO! GET IT NOW BEFORE IT’S LOST!” Our playroom is usually a mess of epic proportions, but with Legos I don’t mess around. Clean up, clean up, everyone do their share before we lose an f’ing Lego piece that’s the size of my pinky nail and I have to deal with a 10-minute meltdown in three days when AJR decides to try and build this set again.
Tiny pieces can also mean choking hazards. Thank God we are in a place with Olivia where she is sort of past putting things in her mouth, otherwise my anxiety level would be through the stratosphere. Okay, she still does put stuff in her mouth but only because it drives me nuts. Too many times I’ve watched her shove a minuscule Lego helmet into her mouth, stick out her tongue at me, and take off running. While she enjoys these daredevil choking antics, she much rather prefers to take the completed Lego sets and spike them vindictively to the ground. AJR used to play with her quite a bit, indulging in her imagined games that had no rhyme or reason and were extremely difficult to follow. With Legos as bae now, these little play sessions have come to an abrupt halt. Because I like to over analyze everything, I believe that Olivia’s Lego smash habit was due in part to jealousy. As a solution, Santa brought Olivia Duplo Legos and the two of them, for the most part, build peacefully alongside one another. It’s a big win for all of us. Olivia feels like she’s still getting to play with her brother, AJR doesn’t have to see his hard work smashed to smithereens, and I don’t have to breathe into a brown paper bag as I watch Lego pieces scatter to the four corners of the earth as each kid starts crying.
Despite the drama over missing pieces, fervent demands for new sets, and of course requests to watch YouTube videos of people building Legos, I am embracing my newfound life as a Lego Mom. Especially because I get such type A satisfaction from organizing them. Oh, and I suppose there’s the part I like about watching my kid find such joy in something. That too, of course.