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  • jdettmann

Lego, Lego, Can’t Hold It Back Any More

This week has marked an important childhood milestone in our household: the transition from Duplo to Lego. Due to my fear of my family actually drowning in clutter and the paramedics not being able to push the door open to reach us when we are lying on the floor, our feet cut to ribbons by the sharp plastic edges of the little bricks, I’ve been strongly resisting this transition by using a clever psychological technique called lying, but they saw through me.

For about a year we have had, shoved into the cupboard in the playroom where no-one ever goes because it houses the vacuum cleaner, a huge plastic tub of Lego. This is most of the Lego from my childhood, which went to live at our neighbours’ house for their three boys’ childhoods, and came back six times as numerous. I didn’t think May Blossom and Garnet knew about it.

Last week, when he was sick, my snotty little sadfaced boy asked me for the ‘little Lego’.

‘There you go,’ I said, pointing to the Duplo.

‘No,’ he specified, ‘the big box of little Lego’.

‘Hmmm,’ I pretended to think. ‘I don’t know if we have any.’

‘We do,’ he said firmly. ‘It’s in your shed.’

Oh. My shed. He was onto me.

I got it out and he was so happy. He was also still very sick so he had no energy to do anything much, but he climbed into the box and sat on the spiky bricks, which is something only the nappy-wearers of the world can countenance doing, and announced that he had made a chair. Laziest lego-builder ever.

Since he’s felt better, he’s started to play with it, and May Blossom is starting to join in. I on the other hand, would play with it day and night if I could. I had totally forgotten how excellent Lego is. I love sifting through the pieces to find what I need, and designing structures as I go along. I do mostly build by request, so this morning began with a zoo with a revolving watchtower, beside a river, with a ‘wibblywobbly’ (suspension bridge). My brief was to build it so the animals inside would be safe from ‘a bad animal catcher’. I didn’t make the obvious point to the commissioning party that if the animals are in the zoo then they have possibly already had a run-in with the animal catcher, because logic is not the main strength of my two-year old. I just did what I was asked. Thus it wasn’t one of your fancy modern zoos with nice replica habitats, it was more like a supermax prison for animals. It was very good, if I do say so myself. The animals are still in there, six hours later.

The kids lose interest in playing Lego long before I do, but fortunately in my parenting arsenal are such failsafe methods of entertainment as letting them sneak the bottle of gummy vitamins out of the pantry and sit in another room giggling while they try to get the childproof lid off. That bought me at least ten minutes of solo Lego-playing, before I had to weigh in when I saw May Blossom come past with an enormous kitchen knife to hack her way in to get the vitamins, which are, let’s face it, really just lollies. As she astutely observed, ‘Whoever has the most sugar is the winner.’ (Good to know all the education about making healthy food choices is sinking in.)

This third-generation box of Lego contains bits from many sets over the years, none of them complete and all lacking  instruction leaflets. I like the freedom of this: I can equip the castle tower with a now-hilarious 1980s computer if I want, or make a pirate the chef of the animal prison. But this set still has the same problems it always did: there isn’t ever enough ridge-capping for the houses, and we need more windows, urgently. I know what I’ll be asking for this Christmas, though I’ll probably have to play with it lying down because of all the stitches in my feet.

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