Parents versus Legos

I love Legos.

I love how they can hold my kids’ attention for 20+ minutes at a time, sometimes even longer. I love how my son intensely follows the directions to create fantastically-complicated Lego masterpieces, often within minutes of receiving them as a birthday or Christmas gift. I love how my daughter uses her imagination to create Lego dogs and cars and robots. I love how my son easily improvises, building complex, freeform Lego machinery, transportation and weaponry. I love how Legos engage both sides of their brains. I love the Lego store: not the prices, but rather the fun of the monthly Lego club, where kids work together to complete a Lego challenge. I love the monthly Lego magazine because my kids love reading it. I love how, when playing with Legos, my kids are not wrestling, squabbling over the iPad, whining for whatever, spilling milk, watching TV, writing on walls (OK, they don’t do that anymore), attempting to launch themselves off of furniture … and so on. You get the drift.

I hate Legos.

I hate that they are everywhere. Freaking everywhere! I hate that, as my kids get bigger, the Lego pieces get smaller and more numerous. I hate that Lego pieces have this way of breeding, like little horny plastic bunnies—and then liberally distributing their spawn over every surface of my home. Not to mention everyone’s “favorite”: unexpectedly treading bare-foot on a Lego piece. (I’ll bet many a child has learnt some colorful new vocabulary from their parents every time it happens.) I hate that a “quick” visit to the Lego store turns into a painful, drawn-out no-fest that disappoints and frustrates everyone. No, you can’t have that $700 Harry Potter Lego rocket launcher set. No, you can’t have that $70 Star Wars Naboo Lego set. No, your $5 won’t be able to buy you anything here. No, we can’t stay another three hours.

I’ve also discovered that there are two types of parents.

There are those organizationally-talented (OCD?) types that have the skills, equipment, time and patience to collect their kids’ gazillion Lego pieces and then  meticulously sort them by color, shape, theme, character, unit, dimension and purpose into designated, purpose-built storage units. And then keep them that way, no matter how often the kids remove said Lego pieces to build their next creation.

I wonder, do the parents themselves do all this sorting and organizing because they enjoy it? Because it fulfills some deep OCD need for order and control. Or is it because their kids won’t do it. Or maybe it’s because they have been pushed to the limits by all these blinking plastic pieces?!

So what about those other types of parents? Well, I fall into this latter category. Yes, I am organized, and sometimes a little OCD, about other certain aspects of domesticity, like the laundry and the dishwasher. But when it comes to the Lego litter, I am tortured, completely tortured and exasperated. Every which way I turn, there’s Lego!

Clean it up, you say. Not my job, I say.

I am NOT going to clean up my kids’ Lego chaos. After all, it’s their mess. (I often remind them about the time that Grandma actually vacuumed up our all Legos when we were kids and she had had it with the mess! Yes, it broke her vacuum but she said the satisfaction was worth it!) So either I take a chill pill and just accept it, or I get them to clean up their own Lego mess. I’m pulling for the latter.

But you’ll not find me maniacally sorting them, nor buying some expensive Lego storage unit. My kids can make do with our existing assortment of random plastic tubs. They can figure out their own system for sorting and organizing. I don’t care how as long as it’s all off the floor. And stays that way.

The only challenge now is to figure how to properly bribe—I mean motivate—them! We shall see.

I am NOT buying one of these

Buckle Up!

A few days ago, I witnessed a car fly into the air in front of my eyes, spin over and come crashing down, not even a foot in front of my eyes. Debris was flying all around. The smell of burned rubber was thick and sickly. Time stood still.

I pulled over. Ran to the car, as did several other people. The deafening silence suddenly got louder, like someone somewhere turned the volume up. People appeared. 911 was dialed, Sirens. Firetrucks, police cars.

I gave my statement to a police officer and sat with a woman who had driven into the slow lane to avoid a tire in the middle lane, and had set off a chain reaction of cars swerving and hitting the black SUV, which then flew up and crashed down, before me.

That car had been innocently driving down the highway, going from A to B, minding its own business when, out of nowhere, everything was quite literally turned upside down. I cannot imagine the shock, the terror of the four passengers.

I watched as the firefighters used all kinds of equipment to free the people inside from the mangled remains of their car. I turned away as they were stretchered out.

What I could tell, though, was that they were alive and had been wearing seat belts. Undoubtedly, the seat belts and airbags had saved their lives.

Later that day, I read on a local news site that their injuries were not serious. Given the chaos that had unfolded in front of me, I was amazed but so hugely grateful these strangers were all alright.

You never know what’s going to hit you, folks. Buckle up. Always. Front and back.

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