Mommy Won't Share Her Legos

September 25, 2009

With the gift giving season beginning its approach, I am vaguely considering getting a jump start on the usual shopping it requires. But I have a confession to make. I already know that I am planning to buy my boys some fancy new Legos this year. Sure, there's certainly nothing unusual about buying your sons Legos. I expect many Legos will find themselves wrapped up and waiting beneath all sorts of decorated trees in a few months. But it's why I am buying them Legos that deserves the confession. I am really buying them for myself.

It all began when I was a young girl visiting my aunt's home. I found her alone at her dining room table surrounded by thousands of Lego pieces scattered in various stages of construction. And her seven-year-old son was nowhere to be found. Initially, while I watched her determined focus, I thought my aunt was being a wonderful mom. Gee, how cool, she's making an enormous Lego pirate ship for her son. What patience! What dedication. But as I pulled up a chair to watch for awhile, one thing became quite clear. This Lego project was not really for her son after all. Because when my cousin did finally appear and tinker with an unfinished section of the ship, she whispered sharply "Don't. Touch. A thing." She was in the zone. She was on a mission. She was creating this Lego monstrosity with sails and canons, and secret compartments all for her own pure, unadulterated enjoyment.

At the time I didn't really get it. Legos are toys, right? My brother had spent hours upon hours piecing Legos together as a child. At the time, I simply could not care less. So why would my aunt want to spend so much time with her son's "toy"? It wasn't until I had sons of my own that I grasped the fascination with Legos and understood why they were really Mommy's toy after all.

Similar to jigsaw puzzles, crossword puzzles or even knitting, Legos offer mothers a chance to lose themselves in focused thought. You see, we spend our days running around multi-tasking, unable to spend more than a few minutes on any chore. We are following through with our children's ever changing schedules, refilling cups, changing diapers, on it goes. So when offered the chance to sit down and tackle a Lego project, we ignore the rules of multi-tasking. We quiet ourselves, follow step by step directions, piece, snap and press each block together -- and simply tune our brains into one project for that moment.

This past birthday, my son was given a complex Lego Star Wars ship to put together. He helped me sort the pieces, he tried to follow the directions, he watched... but eventually, I had taken over the entire project. My husband wasn't allowed near it, my children were to watch only. This was my beast to create. After far too many Groundhog Days in a row, where the dishes never stayed clean, where the house never stayed picked up, Legos offered me the satisfaction of starting a task with something tangible to show for it afterwards. Finally, I could step out of the parenting gerbil wheel for just a moment and settle into the immensely satisfying Lego zone.

If you're feeling overwhelmed by far too many balls in the air, I suggest you go dig around your child's room and give Legos a try. You will certainly earn cool points for being into one of, ahem, their toys. My kids just better hope I don't start taking over their Wii now. (Or take it over any more than I already have...)

From the Parents

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