Tuesday, January 19, 2010


For those of you that have small children and have spent some time in southern California, you might be familiar with a place called Legoland. This theme park, north of San Diego, offers unbelievable fun to Lego-crazed kids everywhere. My boys have been several times, as my in-laws live in L.A. Given a choice, at least for now, they would choose Legoland over Disneyland. And with a Lego-themed scheduled or Atlanta sometimes in the future, I know we’ll become members and visit regularly.

This post has nothing to do with that.

Instead, today’s musing deal with another adventurous Legoland, the one in our house. We’ve bought untold numbers of Lego toys over the years, going back to the day when my older son discovered Bionicles. We’ve put the toys together, taken them apart, and then built bigger ones like taking two double stuff Oreos and making one really big cookie. When we moved from Oregon several years ago, my wife, in packing the house, actually managed to disassemble all the Lego toys, put them back in the original boxes she’d saved, and ship them to Georgia. This is one of the most amazing feats of reverse engineering in mankind’s history.

But as my kids grew, we expanded our Lego investment, branched out on Legos, buying bigger and better ones (re: more complex). And why a 1,000 piece Lego model is suitable for kids 5 & up I’ll never know, but we accepted without question the age recommendations on the boxes, confident that it would be a learning experience.

We got that right. We learned.

We learned that once a boy builds a Lego he is likely to destroy a Lego. And my younger son, whom we should have named Calvin (after Calvin & Hobbes) is a master of his craft. Pieces go all over the place. Toys gets mixed together. Things fall in (get launched into) the heating vent. And if it’s hard enough to find a 1-mm piece amidst a thousand pieces. Imagine what happens when you’ve got 5,000 pieces in a pile and you keep adding to it every time you’re moving around in the dark or don’t watch your step.

About a year ago, after a particularly egregious experience, we enacted a Lego ban. The ban lasted until this past weekend when my wife relented and allowed our 8-year old to purchase a small Lego (actually Mega blocks) toy with his own birthday money. He promised to be good. He promised to take care of it. We also agreed let him put together a Lego toy he got for his birthday a week ago, another 1,000+ piece contraption.

The small toy didn’t last a day. We got a little peeved, tried again to re-establish some rules (or at least something that our kids would obey regarding Legos), and went forward. The rules are:

1) A broken Lego goes immediately to a table or desk with all parts.
2) Broken Legos shall ONLY be assembled at tables or desk.
3) Broken Legos are not put back in boxes, unless disassembled on purpose and confirmed that all pieces are there.
4) Assembly by dividing things into piles by both color and size (large or small) is best.
5) This is their last chance.

Until the next time.

Eventually, one day, after our kids are grown, we will likely put together the toys to confirm that we do have all the pieces. We’re going to re-box them and put them away. And then, when our sons least expect it, we’ll get our revenge.

Presents to grandkids anyone?

What rules do you have in your house for Legos or similar type objects?


Jody Hedlund said...

Oh Walt, I'm cracking up because I can SO relate!! I have two sons who love legos. We probably have every Star Wars Lego ever made!! Now my youngest son is into the Power Miner legos, only he isn't coordinated enough yet to build them. So we have problems with losing pieces. My older son has two special shelves in his bedroom for displaying his sets. Then when he's done with them, he has to take them apart and put them in a plastic bag with the instructions and then put them in a bin under his bed. This has minimized some problems. So right now he has a whole bin of castle lego sets that are in their bags.

Good luck!! :-)

Walt M said...

Jody, thanks for the tip. That's a good one. A few people left suggestions on my Facebook page. My favorite one was, "Don't allow the kids to eat them."