Over the hot, hot summer, my grandson and I spent many happy hours building with – you know those little multi-colored plastic bricks that snap together? For simplicity (and trademark) sake, let’s call them Llegos.
My grandson is a champion constructor. He was gifted several Llego sets for his birthday and Christmas and put them together with amazing speed, and I was right there to encourage him because I buy giant sets of Llegos and construct them at home all by myself. Don’t laugh. It’s the same thing as doing a jigsaw puzzle, except it’s three-dimensional. I get out the card table and work on the project a little here and there, whenever I get a few unassigned moments. I do this so much that my dog Dave knows that word. When I say, “Let’s do some Llegos,” he runs happily to the piano room and jumps on a chair so he can survey the process from a safe perch.
I work on the set and I work on it until the whole thing is finished, then transport it to my upstairs office where I gaze at it fondly, but never touch it again.
Not so my grandson. When the last brick is snapped into place, we do a celebratory happy dance; then, he takes the whole thing apart – every last brick. He is fully entitled to do that. The sets are his alone, but the carnage is so painful for me that I cannot watch. All that work. And it looked so wonderful when he finished. It’s just not the way I’m wired.
Now, this is not like when my grandson was a toddler and delighted in knocking things down. No, this is a systematic deconstruction done with the express purpose of using the bricks in another project, and he always has another project in mind.
For me, Llego construction is a step-by-step process, creating order out of chaos. I look at the instruction booklet, gather the pieces pictured and put them together exactly the way they say. When I am done, the construction looks just like the book said it should and I feel a sense of good girl satisfaction.
For my grandson, it’s all about the hunt. He keeps his Llegos in a giant drawstring bag that lies splayed on the toy room floor, and when he thinks of a piece that he needs, he goes hunting. This takes a while and often he finds other pieces that work even better or shifts the design to incorporate the interesting pieces he finds. Every construction is an adventure.
Being part of this free-wheeling approach has helped me loosen up a little (a very little), although it was still jarring for me when we were constructing a rescue team and I ended up with seven torsos that had heads but no legs. My grandson continued undeterred, assembling the rescue boats and team headquarters, and I did add a piece here and there, but I spent the majority of my time covertly shuffling through the pile looking for the missing legs. I was unsuccessful, so I placed the torsos in the rescue boats as if they were seated behind a table. It was the best I could do. Part of me really, really wanted to return under cover of darkness and continue the search, but I didn’t do that. I count that as progress.
I know, I know. The important thing is spending time together. It’s about the journey, not the destination. Who am I kidding? I’m going to feel better when I find those legs.