On bookshelves, under end tables, on the dining room table, behind the sofa, and under chairs. In the hallway, kitchen, bedroom, living room and yes, the closet. They were spread to every corner of our home like the Starks to the kingdoms of Westeros.
Legos, Legos and more Legos. Our home had turned into a literal Lego-land. Constructed sets abounded - tree houses, ski lodges, yogurt shops, pet hospitals, ice skating rinks, pizzerias and amusement parks. While they are in a seemingly constant state of reproduction, their forces had multiplied exponentially recently -- the result of birthday parties and Christmas.
In an effort to contain the madness, my wife and I had decided to take matters into our own hands. Each year, we make our children a Christmas gift (with Santa supplying all others under the tree.)
This year we decided to make them each a Mobile Lego Cart. It was tricked out with three shelves. On two we affixed Lego baseplates, which would allow them to display their Lego creations, the third had a storage bin, for either Lego pieces or assembled accessories, like cars and planes. Each cart was equipped with hooks for hanging bags of pieces and magnets (some of which were used to spell their names prominently on the cart).
The idea was they could place their creations on the cart, play with them and when done move them to a place that would be out of sight, out of mind for their Lego fatigued parents.
They were things of beauty and our girls loved them. Soon we would learn the shortcomings of our plan.
Our girls are big fans of these Lego sets. Pre-packaged boxes of 400-1200 distinct Lego pieces organized in one to eight different bags with step-by-step instruction booklets that can be up to two hundred pages long. The assembly process takes hours, sometimes spanning multiple days. A simple bump or knock can send that effort into a heap of bricks and tears.
Now put that on a moving cart. Oops, sorry I meant three different moving carts.
Predictably, within the first few hours, two accidents had led to the previously referenced heaps of bricks and tears.
Beyond the tenuous nature of moving intricate Lego sets was the question of real estate. The adage of “If you build it, they will come” was never more true.
Initially old completed sets were moved into their new home only to be quickly displaced by freshly built new sets - a Lego gentrification process forced by limited cart capacity. The building of new sets was so furious you would have thought they were developers in Dubai.
Frustration mounted as did calls for more carts and space.
When I was young, Legos did not come in elaborate sets with instructions. There were Legos and your imagination.
You built something and played with it until you were bored. Then you tore it down and built something different. One set could last a childhood.
Today each set is intended to have permanence. Our children learn the importance of following instructions carefully and take pride in their studious accomplishment. And they certainly exercise their imagination when they play make believe and insert themselves into the complex worlds designed by Lego but assembled with their own two hands.
But something seems decidedly different and potentially lost – and I’m talking about more than just space in our home.