Why Did I Ever Stop Playing With Legos?

why-did-i-stop-playing-with-legosA couple of weeks ago, I knelt on a Lego, demonstrating once again where Noodle gets some of his more thoughtful expressions. It was late. We were cleaning up, and I figured it was fair for me to chip in. After all, I did my share of the building.

Now, I’m not one to play for my kid. I think that’s unhealthy on all fronts; we play together. With my long résumé of Legonic construction expertise, I’m just a bit quicker than he is at pressing plastic blocks together. That’ll change in due course. It might not seem like a particularly meaningful skill in the grand scheme of things, but one never knows when a magical Lego-building dream job might appear, as if by a sorcerer’s whim. As my mom often quips: stranger things have happened.

Anyway, Noodle usually comes up with a concept — house, museum, and garage are popular — and I try to outline a structure while he fills in the gaps. Without devolving into a modern adaptation of Sisyphus, let’s just say that his de-struction skills far exceed my competence with improvisational con-struction. Plus he’s got gravity on his side. (Unsolicited Parenting Tip: Always bet on gravity.)

To be fair, it’s getting better as he gets older — where by “it” I really mean my patience. Still, he seems to actually like playing with finished products more than throwing blocks at my head. (He means to throw them across the room, but he’s got the aim of a boomerang. I know: throwing blocks across the room isn’t a huge improvement on throwing them at my head. What? He’s three. I cut him plenty of slack. That’s my style.)

Back to the story: when the opportunity arises to take a little extra design time, I seize it! Tonight, after the boy went to bed, I discovered, much to my surprise, that I had continued studying the scattered blocks, ciphering out the most efficient uses of the bits and bobs that were left. I must admit, I’m completely hooked on the marriage of color and form that Lego creations take.

(I’m starting to sound like a shill for the brand, aren’t I? I can assure you that the company has not thrown this ol’ dog a bone. In fact, I once applied for a job at their headquarters for a “Technical Writing” position that involved testing building instructions. Yes Mom, stranger things do, in fact, happen. The powers-that-be were clearly not smitten with my qualifications, but I’ve come a long way since then. Hey Lego, look at this: I’m still playing with your shit! Not too late to rescind that rejection letter if you like. I’m willing to let bygones be bygones.)

(If anyone from Lego actually reads this, type the word “macaroni” in the comment box. It’ll be our little secret, and I’ll feel like my ship finally docked. Of the waves and waves of rejection letters I’ve received over the years, that one was, truly, the most disappointing; I often suffer from ill-placed enthusiasm, but that time … that time I really thought I had a shot.)

I have digressed. My point is simple — though now convoluted by this confounded back story that keeps blathering in my head, stuck like a maddeningly catchy pop jingle. Back stories have a habit of doing that, don’t they? They should be called back-to-front-and-back-again drift stories, but that takes too long to write, and I actually write all of my material by hand. I’m kind of an analog guy, truth be told — I prefer vinyl, always have — which is probably why the boy and I never find ourselves sucked into buzz-humming-screen-based-entertainment, opting to build with — and occasionally pelt one another with — the most treacherous barefoot-on-the-floor hazards ever invented.

Back to where we started — I knelt on the damned thing and I tell you, I had that bruise for at least two weeks. Reminded me every time I bent my leg that, if nothing else, this kid takes me back to how I felt in my Glory Days — even if these are supposed to be his. … Nah. They’re ours. Living with this little guy, my eyes are wide open.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go spin some Springsteen and teach my boy how to Rock & Roll!

Apple Slices & Saying Goodnight