My son is at that age where blocks are fascinating. He wakes up talking about Legos and gets tucked in at night holding his masterpiece of the day. His whole world is Legos.
Because of this, I am constantly finding Legos where Legos should not be. I step on the tiny blocks while cleaning the house and have to clear the dining area of all projects before I can serve meals.
I love that he is enjoying this new-to-him toy. I watch him as he creates ever more elaborate projects. And, as I have made clear to him that I am not the person to ask for building advice, for the most part I am not involved in this latest toy craze.
However, in a way I am vital to his building. I provide an audience. Throughout the day I get shown at least 100 variations of his latest creations.
It starts in the morning. My son makes a submarine, his interests lie under the ocean at the moment. It has straight edges, what looks like a chair for the captain sitting inside, and a flag waving joyously. As the day progresses, however, he will continue to add to his special submarine. It will get appraised, shown to me, reevaluated and then changed again.
As we leave the house, on our way to run errands or go to the library, he will clutch his submarine, tell me it is finally perfect and that he wants to take it with him. I let him, knowing full well that parts will be lost in transit, modifications made en route, and tears will be shed when we lose the submarine and have to search the whole library, store, museum, only to find bits in his pocket and the rest on the bathroom counter, where he had to let go to wash his hands.
I know this will happen, even as I am nodding my head, “yes, you can take it with you.”
As we leave whatever store or venue, sniffling, but happy that all is found, he maneuvers his submarine into one hand so he can grab my hand with the other to cross the street.
We get home, eat lunch and continue our Lego day. My daughter follows him upstairs, asking along the way what it is she should build. For a moment she is interested in his Legos, she builds by his side.
He loses himself in his own projects and forgets she’s there sometimes. She will grab random pieces and join them to make her own design. Hers are usually small and she lets me know that mostly they are “silly things.” I think she wants to try it out because she sees her brother having so much fun.
For ten minutes she is as engrossed as he. She shows me her “silly things” over and over, wanting me to notice the subtle difference between time #5 and time #8, “aren’t they so different mommy.” I nod and have no idea what she could be talking about. At some point she will move on to her tea party and dollies.
Meanwhile, I have seen my son enter and exit his playroom for the 20th time in so many minutes, each time proudly displaying his newest combination. He will come running to show me his submarine, that now has propellers. Later there will be a steering wheel, cannons, laser guns, more men, a water tank, a windshield, wings, more weapons of every kind, and some extra tires, “in case they want to go on land.”
All the while he builds he also narrates, stories about the life of the submarine, what each person inside does, how they live and what they are searching for at the bottom of the sea. No detail is too small.
At some point during the day I will be holding a tea cup, babysitting one of my daughter’s dollies and holding a spare submarine part for my son. Most of the time I have lost track of what game we are currently playing or what Lego handiwork I’m supposed to be admiring. But I’m good at nodding and smiling so big my cheeks hurt. The pride I feel inside, of being their mother, that however, does not need to be faked.