Now entering the next phase of my son’s life: LEGO mania. One day, grandma innocently gave her grandson a basic LEGO builder box and he was instantly hooked. That was 5 months ago. Not a day has passed when Leigh hasn’t played with LEGOs. He’s officially a LEGO lunatic.
It’s not a bad thing. It’s an expensive addiction but not a negative experience by any means (unless you step on a block or lose a special piece). Whether it’s a new set of blocks or a random mini-figure bag, Leigh screeches with delight whenever we show him what’s in store. “Special treat!” he exclaims. He can’t wait to find a flat surface to rip apart the package and go to town.
Leigh recognizes numbers in the instruction steps and counts pieces without hesitation. My son can problem-solve to fit pieces together and strategically tests my ability to focus on the task at hand, questioning my own adult attention span. His favorite game is picking up the wrong piece and asking if this is the right one. Or putting the piece together the wrong way to make sure I’m following along.
Not to say he needs me there while he builds every minute. LEGOs also taught him how to play independently. He builds things from his imagination. Leigh’s favorite go-to is a long car with a windshield, wheels and purple and red blocks. I heard his little voice giving life to his mini-figures, talking to one another about their day. Seeing and hearing a child’s creative mind at work is one of the most rewarding experiences of parenthood.
The local library hosted a summer reading program themed after the 50th anniversary of the space expedition to the moon. Leigh was not as excited by the rocket ships and planets as he was about the LEGO Movie Lucy builder’s box prize on display. I told him if he wanted the prize, he’d have to earn it by reading lots of books. Every time we went back to the library this summer, Leigh would run to the cabinet, keeping his eye on the prize. He was given a book log sheet and we wrote down nearly 75 books to fill all the lines before we turned it into the library. Even the children’s librarian was impressed by the amount of reading we did. Leigh kept repeating he had to “read lots of books” to get a chance to win his Lucy prize. He insisted on reading at least 2 or 3 books every night. Problem is: he wasn’t guaranteed to win – it’s a random raffle drawing. Being the cut-throat parents we are, we bought him the Lucy LEGO set from Walmart and packaged it up with a mailing label to Leigh from the library. We set it outside the house and watched our son act like it was Christmas morning when he realized it was waiting on the front porch. Sure, he needs to learn he doesn’t get everything he asks for, but the major completion of a summer reading program was not the time for that lesson. I wanted to celebrate his achievement as much he did. I’ve never seen him happier. Reading should be rewarding.
For a kid just over 3-years-old, he can build LEGOs better than he can dress himself. Knowing what he’s intellectually capable of helps me recognize his boundaries. I am more comfortable pushing him to do harder things around the house based on his proven dexterity and ability to follow instructions. Instead of putting bites of food on his fork, I let him do it. He feeds the dogs, waters the flowers and remembers to carefully pick blueberries every morning. LEGOs are a great tool for preschool learners because they learn best through play. I also highly recommend you get some to play with yourself – unleash your inner creative!
My LEGO lunatic has learned many life lessons from this simple building block toy that continues to stand the test of time. It must be all of these reasons listed above that makes me empty my pocketbook every month. Why do little plastic blocks cost so much?? Let me tell you why: it’s because parents (like me) will pay it, no matter how much, just to see their kid’s face light up. I know that’s why I continue to shove out $5 a shot looking for a tiny figure hot dog man to go with our watermelon guy. Nice move, LEGO. Keep ‘em coming.
The only thing we still have to figure out is how to avoid getting what I’m calling a “LEGO thumb” where his little finger nail keeps breaking into weird jagged edges from taking apart the pieces excessively. Bandaids only last so long on fingertips.