My life in Lego Bricks
Almost six months in quarantine + three kids + tonnes of Lego blocks = We all stay sane.
My boys and to some extent, my little girl enjoy building, taking apart and creating with Legos. For every birthday, Christmas, and good report card, they ask for a Lego set, and I'm more than happy to comply. The kids are busy, focused, creative and playing together; a parent couldn't ask for better. At this point, my ten-year-old's room is a wall-to-wall display case of Lego creations, and it's clear it's a passion that will carry him into adulthood. Yesterday, as we took apart and built up a set together, it hit me how theses tiny plastic pieces are the perfect metaphor for life, especially these days.
We all have our set of instructions for life: our values, our priorities, and although the order in which we go about our day might be flexible, it's usually all laid out: Step One: Scrape the children out of bed. Step Two: Feed them. Step Three: Argue about which shoes to wear. You get the idea.
Recently, my boy opened a birthday gift to find the instruction manual was missing several pages. He'd gotten a quarter of the way through building and had to stop. He was disappointed and irritated. With all the Lego sets in the house, this was a first. The look on his face was one I recognized: When you make plans, look forward to something, work hard and still, the experience falls flat, you want to curl up into bed and complain. So was my experience with the pandemic. Every day we'd make plans on how to go about our day, with the threat of change, uncertainty and fear hovering close behind. Most days, my husband and I were too busy with the kids to let it get to us, but when we sat down in the afternoon to watch daily press conferences, the heaviness weighed on us both. What do we do now? Our instructions were gone. Everything we had been looking forward to and prepping for was cancelled. What was our next step?
Finding the missing Lego instructions was easy enough. I showed my son how to search, find and download them onto his tablet. He's much more comfortable surrounded by a mountain of Lego blocks than he is surfing the web, but that's fine with me. He found his instructions and was able to build his set, and his frustration melted.
I, on the other hand, have been trying to adapt my instructions almost daily. Between work and school and keeping anxiety at bay for me and the kids, sometimes I want to draw up a whole new magical plan, build a Lego fortress and hide there.
But the thing is, you can follow the instructions and end up with exactly what's on the box and I suppose it's satisfying to say, "I followed all the right moves and look what I made. It's perfect." Or, you can take everything apart, carefully categorize every piece by shape or color and rearrange them any way you like. The possibilities are endless. You might end up with a crooked tower (my specialty) or, if you're like my kids, you can create a whole new thing you didn't even know was possible until you started, one tiny brick at a time. It's a whole lot more satisfying to know you could take it all apart and make something new, using what you already know.
Pieces don't always fit together, and sometimes they fit together in the most unexpected way, but through lots of trial and error, you can have a finished product that you can gloat about or tear apart, and the instructions don't matter, but it's okay, because you've made your own set.
Just make sure to clean up the mess, because stepping on a brick in the middle of the night, is enough to drive us all mad!