21 October 2011

Love, In a Million Pieces

The new Lego catalog has arrived. In order to see it, however, you will have to peel it out of Five's sweaty, small hands, where it has remained for almost every moment of the past three days. It is the last thing he touches before he leaves for school, and the first thing he asks for when he returns. Then he curls up in a chair, or lays on the couch, and  fondles the pages like it's some pre-pubescent version of Playboy.

Five is the only one of our children to fully embrace Legos. Two had a passing interest, which produced some cool Speed Racer cars that still exist intact today. Five has deemed them "old," because I think he wants to break them down for parts. But other than those two, no other pack members have possessed the mental fortitude or spatial skills to complete construction on more than two items.

Like all good addictions, Five's obsession began with a taste-a small "Star Wars" Lego kit with less than one hundred pieces. Smitten, he progressed to vignettes of chariots and castles, giant snakes and desert treasure. Now, he is fully in thrall to the beast with two backs. Or at least, the beast which can be created by assembling 1500 light and dark grey small blocks. There's no turning back. His Christmas list is comprised of a dozen kits that range in price from thirty to two hundred dollars. He says price doesn't matter, because Santa doesn't buy the Legos; the elves make them.

I see where this is headed. After a while, there will be no way to satisfy the craving. He'll need a bigger, more potent fix. An "Alien Conquest Headquarters," followed by the "Tower of London." Ultimately, there will be nothing left but "The Death Star," followed by a painful journey through de-tox and rehab. It's inevitable.

But I'm not going to discourage him. Who isn't enthralled by the transfigurative nature of the plastic pieces? Who hasn't wondered what kind of tortured, artistic geniuses create those beautiful manuals, sadistic in their subtle shading? Are not Legos a symbol of universal creation itself, drab building blocks tranformed into complex things of beauty?

This morning, Five asked to take the catalog with him to school. I hesitated, recognizing an escalation in the pathology. But I handed it to him, with instructions to limit viewing to recess and bus time. Besotted, he clutched it to his chest as we walked out the door. Who am I to deny him the power of Creation?


  1. Makes me think of the Red Ryder gun, and the Little Orphan Annie Secret Decoder Ring...

    You know we have experienced a similar Lego obsession in our house, and we have the shrine to prove it. The down side is the cost and the pieces that show up EVERYWHERE [the worst is when they're underfoot]. I have been a good mom many times over and refrained from sucking them up the vacuum hose, choosing to instead move them to a safer place. [Who am I kidding? The same pieces end up back in the vacuum's way]. But I can't throw them out because they are so loved. And I recognize some as being special or hard-to-replace, even though they're surely hard-to-find in our house.

    The upside is the HOURS of creative brainwork, time NOT spent on a video game. Watching someone LOOK at an object and then recreate it in Lego has been impressive. He is wired in a way that others in my house are not, and I think he has recognized a talent that will perhaps influence a future direction for him.

    And you do know that Legoland is due to open this month in Florida, right? Very convenient...

  2. Lordy. Your Five and my #1 Son are of one mind in this particular area. #1 Son has progressed to taking pictures of his creations (he saved money and bought his own camera mainly for this purpose) and posting them on the Lego site where strangers across the world can rate his work. He's also fascinated with the Lego online builder, in which you can create your own digital Lego designs, then, if you want (and can afford it), have them manufacture your kit and send it to you, building instructions and all. Oy.

    We've had the Santa argument, too. I handle it by telling him that both Santa and his parents dislike it when children are greedy. Therefore, each child may choose to ask for one thing they simply have to have, it must be $50 or under (my rules), and Santa will surprise them with the rest. Otherwise, #1 son would have had that large-scale Death Star in his hot little hands years ago.

  3. ohmygawd those manuals are so intricate and subtle. i got dh the guggenheim, space needle and ultimately fallingwater lego kits which he refuses to dismantle. i recommend the guggenheim very highly...less mindbendingly impossible than fallingwater and very cool.

    I have been known to carry around the metropolitan museum of art shop catalog...my pathology.

  4. My volunteer-turned-partly-paid job is with an organization around the All-Earth EcoBot Challenge. It's an engineering competition where kids in 5th - 8th grade design, program and built LEGO robots that operate autonomously ---no controllers of any kind --- to solve a variety of tasks. Kids who never even considered college partake in this and now want to be engineers and scientists and programmers. Even kids who were defined as autistic or even mentally retarded. LEGO rocks like nothing else. (Oh, and we are looking at expanding outward in the near forseeable future, so if you think your school or community is interested ....

  5. ... and here would be one day where you "did not fail five today!" - no matter what else may have happened. (hope it worked out well for the teachers!- LOL)

  6. Anonymous22.10.11

    I had totally forgotten about this! J.D. did the same thing! (Fairly certain he doesn't know about that design-your-own site Dee's talking about though, or I'd be getting packages on my front porch from there by now. Shh, don't tell him!)

  7. @Julie: It's cool that Lego has been around for so long that my brother also built them. Of course, back then, they were much more basic. I promise not to tell J.D. if you don't tell Five.

    @bobbi: Oh, it only it were that cut and dried. I KNOW I didn't fail him, but in his mind...For every triumph, there are a dozen failures!

    @Skye: Five's science teacher runs an after-school Lego creation class. If you send me info, I could forward it to her! (My email is on my profile).

    @lora: The Guggenheim! Oh my! I think we have a few years before they get there, but I bet it's beautiful.

    I can't fault you for your catalogs. I have back issues of "Country Home" magazine that I refuse to throw away. They transport me. They don't publish the magazine anymore, so I think I'm justified.

    @Delia: I used your "greedy" line last night. He's going to have a hard time winnowing the list. I'm going to surreptitiously check out the website, just because it sounds awesome!

    @Chrysanthe: I was thinking of your boy when I wrote this post. I've seen his dedication and skill in action. It's amazing; and I agree it will pay off in some fashion.

  8. LOL Sorry, Five.


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