Note: This post was originally published in October 2012.
I am writing this on behalf of my son, who is truly your biggest fan. Seriously. He really is.
It’s funny, he was never really into Duplos and was only mildly interested in the larger Lego blocks (aside from the time when he was a small toddler and put one of the smaller bricks in his mouth and almost choked … I still shudder thinking about that.) But all of a sudden, maybe within the last year or two, he made the giant leap to the teeny-tiny Lego pieces that I now find in my vacuum cleaner, stuck to the bottom of my foot, in the washing machine or clenched in his sister’s hand like prized contraband.
When he got his first “big boy” Lego set (some sort of Star Wars ship, I believe) I remember cringing when I saw the 4-7 age recommendation on the box. He was barely 5; is he going to be able to figure this out? I felt even more dismayed as I looked through the ten page instruction manual, where there were no words, only rough, ambiguous sketches of how to assemble the ship. Plus, don’t all these pieces look the same? How are kids supposed to figure this out? I don’t think I could even build this!
Of course, he had it built within a few hours.
That was the beginning. His Lego passion has taken on a life of its own since then. He’s progressed to larger, more complicated ships that sometimes take days to assemble and come with six plastic baggies full of hundreds and hundreds of similar-looking pieces. He opens the bags, spreads all the pieces on the floor, and slowly makes his way through the instruction booklet. It’s fascinating to watch. I’ve never seen that level of concentration before. He just seems to know how to assemble things, and his fingers move and manipulate those tiny pieces with such dexterity.
I am going to wager that he now has about 2,000 Lego pieces of varying color, size, shape and function. I’m not kidding. Once upon a time, we had grand illusions of buying a Lego “organization system” to help him keep similar pieces together. Ha. They are all mixed up and jumbled together and he couldn’t care less. But what I find amazing is the fact that he can sort through a bin of 500 pieces and find exactly what he’s looking for. That’s some mad sorting skills. I think I would have a panic attack.
For his 6th birthday, he received one of the Star Wars Lego sets he had been coveting for some time: the X-Wing Starfighter. He couldn’t wait to tear the box open and dig in. He sat for hours at a time in his playroom, pouring over the instruction booklet for this toy meant for kids ages 8-12. It took a few days, but eventually he assembled all 560 Lego pieces into a spaceship over 12 inches long that has a hatch that opens and retracting wings. The pride on his face was unmistakable. As a parent, it was an incredible to see your child feel so proud of himself – and, truthfully, I also was impressed at what he created, because I know there is no way I could have built that thing as speedily as he did and not have it fall apart the minute I picked it up.
Who knew these iconic blocks, developed in Denmark nearly 100 years ago, could have such an impact here, today, on my family?
I admit, I was afraid that once he assembled each Lego set he’d grow bored and that would be the end of it. Boy, was I wrong. He’s now moved on to designing his own creations, changing ideas and rebuilding, which I find even more remarkable in some ways. When I see a pile of Lego bricks I see … um, a pile of Lego bricks. Maybe it’s my adult brain talking, but I wouldn’t have the slightest idea what to build with them. My son, on the other hand, looks at that pile and sees endless possibilities: a jet, a spaceship, a rocket, his own interpretation of a galactic star destroyer.
So thank you, Lego, for fostering my son’s independence and creativity. For helping him hone his analytical skills and improve his problem-solving abilities. For inspiring him to use his imagination. And, lest we forget, thank you for providing him with hours upon hours of entertainment. It’s no coincidence that TV viewing time in our house has gone down drastically since he discovered his love for Legos.
P.S. But can we talk about the prices of some of these Lego sets? Sheesh.
Note: I was not compensated for this post in any way. In fact, we’ve spent WAY too much money on Legos over the years