Monday, April 03, 2006

The Takeover of Lego Land

I would sneak downstairs as quietly as I could; working hard to keep from waking up my parents whose bedroom was right next to the living room in the house of my youth. In my arm was a shoebox filled with my favorite and greatest possession. I would make it to the center of the carpeted living room and silently remove the lid of my treasure and then came the toughest part. I had to pour out the tiny plastic pieces and spread them on the floor without waking my dad in the next room. As silently and slowly as I could I poured the colorful blocks onto the carpet and the noise is seared into my memory as the most pleasant sound I could hear as a young boy. Saturday mornings with my Lego Building Blocks is one of my favorite memories.

Mom would get up to find me building a Lego corral for my Lego horses, my Lego farm house was already done and my Lego ranchers were bringing in the Lego cattle from the carpeted fields. Other mornings I would be building my own version of the Spruce Goose, attempting to use my entire shoebox of Legos to build one airplane. It had a three foot wingspan and the engineering required to keep it held together while flying on the limited resources of my collection rivaled the building of the Hoover Dam. My older brothers had their Erector Sets and their Lincoln Logs but I had my Legos.

But my Legos were different than the Legos of today. The Legos of today are now closer to model cars or planes. They require the following of instructions to build a specific “Death Star” or a “B-wing Fighter” or now the technology people are building robots and even computers out of Legos. I ask you … where’s the fun in that? Lego Land has been invaded and taken over by the kit and model builders. The beauty of Legos was in it’s simplicity. Five blocks with the eight studs on them could make a fighter plane in my imagination. Three blocks with the four studs on top each other with a round one on top of them made a man, or even two single stud blocks on each other made smaller men. My castles didn’t have smooth roofs, they looked more like a stairway. But I had so much fun with my “primitive” set that it kept me happy for years of imaginative play.

Sometimes we actually over think and over plan our lives and the lives of our children. We forget that with dirt and water we built a delicatessen of mud pies and cookies and we substitute Easy Bake Ovens with instructions so complex our kids disappear before we are done reading them. No wonder our kids are more interested in the box than the $250 gadget that came in it. Simple, easy, creative fun is, well, fun.

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