When Legos fall apart, so do I.
“Did you hear that?” I asked my husband.
“Legos. Legos falling …”
Legos make a very distinct noise when they fall on a wood floor — something between a thud and a clatter. It’s the sound of time dying. Of hours eating themselves.
I got up out of bed and found my 6-year-old standing over a massive shipwreck on the stairs. I’m pretty sure he would have been using every bad word he knew, if he knew any. “Oh, man,” he kept saying. “Man.”
“Don’t worry,” I promised, “we’ll rebuild it.”
I should have said, “Don’t worry, we’ll spend the next two days rebuilding it. And every time we rebuild it, we’ll have a few extra pieces left. Pretty soon, you’ll have enough extra pieces to build a whole new ship!”
An obscene number of Legos arrived at our house Saturday morning. (Under mysterious circumstances, there being no chimney). It’s not just my house, right? Every little boy I know is obsessed with Legos.
My son thinks Legos make everything better. He doesn’t want to dress up like Batman; he wants to dress up like Lego Batman. He doesn’t want a Star Wars party. He wants a Lego Star Wars party.
For a long time, my husband and I just ignored all this want. We were like, “You can pretend to be Lego Batman, that’s fine. But real Legos are time-consuming choking hazards, and also they’re phenomenally expensive. And? They don’t look like that much fun.”
I was never much of a Lego kid. (I was no Zach/Zach/Lego maniac.) Maybe because I was a girl, maybe because Legos were totally different back then.
You didn’t see many Lego kits (Like today’s Lego Hogwarts or Lego Millennium Falcon). People usually had Lego assortments, boxes full of loose Lego pieces in various sizes and colors.
I would play with Legos if there was nothing else around, but I could never build anything cool and I didn’t get anything out of the creative process. I’d rather play with a car than build one. (This same personality trait keeps me from enjoying Mongolian grills. Yes, I’d like chicken curry. No, I don’t want to make it.)
Today’s Legos have more in common with models than building blocks. You buy specific kits — castles, spaceships, etc. — and they come with thick construction manuals.
I actually like the building phase. My son and I both love puzzles and, oddly, following instructions.
But once the Lego sets are built, he wants to play with them. Like they’re action figures.
I applaud his imagination, obviously. I’d hate to watch a $60 Lego set gather dust on his bedroom shelf. (Sixty dollars only buys you a medium-sized set, by the way. The ventis go for $100 and up.)
But Legos are not action figures. They’re allergic to action. Enthusiastic looking makes Lego sets fall apart. If you think about them from a distance, they start to shed pieces.
And if you play with them — if you swing the spaceships around the room like … like spaceships — just forget about it. They’ll fall apart in ways that defy explanation.
Which is why I made a Target run on the day after Christmas specifically to buy glue.
I know it’s gauche to glue Legos together, and that Lego purists might mock my son someday for cheating. “If you glue them, you can’t play with them again,” they say.
But if I don’t glue them, he won’t be able to play with them now. We’re a few “Oh man”s away from a box full of random Legos.
And nobody wants to play with that.