Monday, October 20, 2014
We don't have Legos spilling everywhere. Ethan isn't begging for the latest Star Wars model kits at Target. You won't find him asking to go to Legoland or wanting to go and build something at one of those events they have at the library.
No, Ethan's not Lego-obsessed like the majority of boys his age, but we're celebrating over here nonetheless. In the last few weeks he's become Lego-interested. For the first time. Ever.
Me and Legos go way back. I LOVED them when I was a kid. Oh, I couldn't stand actually following directions and building something like a spaceship or a car. No, I just wanted a big tub of Legos, and I wanted to get creative. Actually, most of the time I wanted to build houses that I would then fill with Fisher Price people and act out various dramas. Yeah, and the house was usually destroyed by a tornado.
That was my Lego experience, which is why I've had trouble grasping kids and Legos today. Who wants to buy a kit with just enough pieces to replicate a picture that's on the front? What's the fun of that? Maybe if you're engineering-minded. I just don't get it.
That being said, I've wished for a long time that Ethan would get "into" Legos or really any kind of building blocks. I've tried to be patient because some of his lack of interest has really come down to low muscle tone and literally having trouble connecting the blocks and pushing down hard enough to make them stick. Then there's the whole creativity factor. Coming up with ideas has sometimes been a challenge, and yet those kits out there that show him exactly what to do are too complex and have pieces too small for him to handle with any kind of ease.
For four years now our experience with Ethan and blocks has been primarily me asking him to build something and him refusing and wandering away. Every once in a while he would half-heartedly build a tower. Never, ever did he care about bringing Lego people into the equation and acting out any sort of scene (the way Anna did when she was about 3 years old and on, building block houses for her My Little Ponies). After years of pushing I let the Lego thing go. If there's one thing I've learned about Ethan it's that you can't successfully MAKE him do anything, particularly when it comes to play.
A few weeks ago, out of the blue Ethan pulled out our box of Legos and started building. Right now we have the bigger blocks, the one labeled for ages 2-5, since they're easier to handle. He sat there on the floor for over an hour, telling me he was working on a house. And he spent another half-hour trying to fashion a "lock" out of a piece of string for the door.
A few days later, he wanted to build a house again. And then another day, again. Not only that, he asked for people to put in the house. And I heard him acting out scenes. They were eating in the kitchen. They were going for a ride in their rocket. Later they were going to bed.
Ethan's house is, not surprisingly, not quite typical. Looking at it, I have to wonder if he sees often in parts rather than a whole. There is a big staircase that leads to nowhere. There's a section he calls "the kitchen." There's a tall chimney that's not really connected to anything. There is the garage. But there's not one building that you could define as THE house.
On a side note, I find it quite funny that he had to build not just a garage but garage doors, as garage doors have been near and dear to his heart since toddlerhood.
The other day, after he spent a full hour building, I heard it for the first time: "Mom? We need to go to the store so we can get MORE Legos!"
Walking through the Target aisle later (not to buy said Legos; we just seem to live at Target these days because there's always something that someone, usually the baby, needs), I looked at the shelves of Lego kits and rolled my eyes. Ethan wasn't interested, either. What I wanted was a good, old-fashioned, big tub of plain old Legos, but they were nowhere to be found.
And so, in my own way, I will embark on the oh-so-common mom-quest to find my child the ideal set of Legos. His birthday's coming. Maybe by then he will have graduated to something beyond building a Lego house. Maybe, but then again, when I think back to my childhood, I see myself building the same house, over and over, filling it with people, and destroying it with a tornado. And no one called me quirky. Ethan can build whatever he wants to. I'm just glad he's playing.