Not too very long ago Wired's GeekDad wrote a review of a book about Adult Lego Fans, LEGO: a Love Story by Jonathan Bender. In their post they offered an copy of the book to a fan that replied. I was that lucky fan. I never had LEGOs as a kid, but my Dad let my sister and I build with his American Bricks (pre-Playskool). You can check those on ebay if you don't know what they are. Eventually one Christmas my sister and I were awarded our own tub of "generic bricks". Which were cool, but not compatible with LEGO pieces. Anyway, it wasn't my bemoaning my childhood bereft of the "cool bricks" that got me the book. It was the random number generator.
Not having much time to read has made my active reading list rather light. In fact I wasn't reading anything when my copy of the book arrived. I set to reading it right away, even though it isn't the kind of thing I'd buy for myself. I'm more of a sci-fi reader (and lately been reading kid's fantasy), but I did really enjoy the book. I connected with the author on more than one front. That longing for bricks that I never had, the projects my bucket just couldn't build, and those summer days spent doing nothing but building and playing. Then my husband, who still has all of his LEGO bricks from childhood despite moving across the country a couple times, read the book.
First, you need to know that I currently live in a small town. It has a main street. On that main street are cute little shops that you just don't find in cities anymore. One of those really neat shops is a pharmacy with the coolest toy store ever inside. In fact most people forget it's even a pharmacy (I usually do, when we go it's for great toys, models, or games!) However, we've been spending quite a bit of time in the pharmacy lately as the audiologist helps my husband with his new fancy hearing aids (these things take lots of adjustments.) Right next to the pharmacy is the LEGO aisle. This is where my kids wait while Daddy gets his ears worked on.
Until this last Friday, in the LEGO aisle there was a box full of bricks and zip lock sandwich bags. A laminated page invited visitors to fill a bag and to take it home for only six dollars. I'm fairly sure that at least 4, maybe more, bags came home with my husband and children. When I said my husband still has all his blocks, I wasn't joking. His mother brought them in a suitcase the last time she came to visit so that she wouldn't need to store (or move) them anymore. They've been in their organized little plastic shoe boxes in our play/spare/junk room, out of the reach of our "too young" children since.
That is they were, until GeekDad sent a copy of LEGO: A Love Story. All of a sudden, the seven and up age recommendation of the standard sized LEGO blocks was decidedly much too old and the blocks started making an appearance. Now, it's not like my kids are deprived of creative building material. I love creative building and bought MANY Mega Bloks on garage sales. So many, in fact, I am forbidden to buy over-sized blocks at any more sales, regardless of whether or not they are free. I also have extensive numbers of cardboard bricks. You see, when I was little, I never had enough bricks to build what was in my head, as a good mom, I didn't want my kids to ever have that problem. The only area I'm lacking is wooden bricks, but I've got a couple bins of those too!
Now my husband also has this blue mat/bag. It's basically an old sheet that his mom, in a stroke of genius, cut into a giant circle (like five feet) and then added a drawstring. The idea is you put the mat on the floor, fill it with LEGO's and none of the pieces leave the mat, therefore, there are no little pieces to find with your feet or vacuum cleaner. When you are done, you just grab the strings and tie the bag! Well the poor little bag didn't have any LEGO's so those bags my husband bought, they went in the blue bag. It was a good start to the bricks. Now my husband wasn't just talking fondly about his days of playing with LEGO and all the cool stuff he built and cool stuff he was going to build with his kids, he was doing it.
He does, however; have a reluctance to mix his bricks. So the building mat is always a bit limited. Well it was until Friday, when my husband bought the "rest of the box" at our local store. Now the blue bag has a big jumble of bricks. Today several My Little Ponies have found new houses. Today, the baby has fussed more and more about not being able to eat those "seven and up" bricks. Today, I really want to get my hands into that pile and build all those things I could never build as a child, because I just didn't have the bricks. Our county fair has a LEGO build competition... we've only got a little over a month left!
GeekDad, do you see what you have done? What you have created? Admittedly, this probably would have happened without reading Mr. Bender's book, but it probably would have been a couple more years off, and I wouldn't be craving one of those $2 block separators, not sold in town. I see a future with lots of LEGOs, even more than we were predicting a few years before. I wonder what will be more popular under the Christmas tree this year, Playmobil or LEGO.