Let’s just talk for a minute about LEGOs.
I love LEGOs. I really do. They are so much fun to play with. I’m just as guilty of spending an afternoon trying to put together a fire station that Spider-Man is trying to save from the bad guys as my kids are.
The problem is that back when we made the decision to start collecting LEGOs, the oldest was already 7, and he really wanted to collect ALL the Star Wars sets. Which was fine, because Husband likes Star Wars, too, and I don’t mind it so much either, because George Lucas is about the coolest person in the world. But what we didn’t think about when we made the leap was how all of those sets would become one big set.
The oldest has seven different LEGO Star Wars sets, and they somehow became four bins of LEGOs. It would take years to put those sets together the way they were intended to be put together, and I guess I should be thankful for all the things he does with them instead (he made a near exact replica of our house once out of the LEGOs), but the thing is, I really wanted to see what those sets looked like put together, and I never got to. I probably care way more about this than my kid does.
The other, bigger problem is that when it’s time to clean up LEGOs, it’s pretty much impossible to clean them all up. When we tell our boys it’s time to clean up, they’ll look at just the one bin they’ve dumped out and they will already feel completely overwhelmed and unable to complete such a daunting task, because there are a billion tiny little pieces, and even after overcoming that initial resistance and getting started, there’s no way they’ll put away every piece. Kids are practically blind. It’s impossible to clean up all the LEGOs. Some pieces get knocked beneath the carpet in the dining room. Some get shoved under the sofa table behind the couch, and they will surface days after we lock their bins away in the garage, or sometimes they will make an appearance in mere hours, usually because someone has knocked something else out from under the couch and this culprit brings with it an overlooked LEGO piece that either (a) reminds my kids they have LEGOs or (b) remains invisible, trapped in carpet fibers so that the next time I kneel on the floor it will slice my knee cap in half.
When my boys play with LEGOs in our house, the LEGOs can do nothing else but explode. And by explode, I mean they explode—go everywhere imaginable. I’ve had one in a sock before, and I have no idea how it got there. I’ve sat on one hiding under the bolted-down cushion of a chair (you think it hurts to step on a LEGO piece? Try sitting on one and you tell me which one hurts more.). I’ve found them in the boys’ shoes, in plant pots, inside the piano bench (someone’s trying to play me. There’s no way a LEGO piece could crawl into a closed piano bench nook.).
It doesn’t matter if there’s one bin out or three of them, the mess and its disaster will be exactly the same.
And then, when the 8-year-old decides that he’s made the very definition of a masterpiece, he always wants to leave it out, because he does NOT want to break something this amazing, and how do you explain to an 8-year-old that he has 3-year-old brothers who will, at the most inopportune moment, find that masterpiece and not only destroy it but destroy the room in which it sits, fashioning a national disaster that would make a tornado jealous.
LEGOs just aren’t a convenient thing to have around in a house full of kids, as much as I love them. They were a good invention. Truly. I understand how they can make kids really good at building the imaginary shapes and buildings and lands that live in their heads, but when it’s all said and done, I’m not entirely convinced having them around is worth it. They’re like glitter. You try to wipe it away, but it never really goes away, and you’ll keep finding glowing specks of it months after you rid yourself and your home of its every trace (or so you think).
I’m not saying we’ll get rid of our LEGOs. I’m just saying that somebody, by now, should have invented some sort of LEGO vacuum cleaner that has the power and intelligence to suck up all the LEGO pieces on a floor or between couch cushions or in shoes and empty them out neatly into their designated bin. Although that probably wouldn’t be a great idea, because in my home, you’d also be sucking up whole layers of dirt and hair and stale food the kids like to “accidentally” drop when I’m not looking (it all looks suspiciously like spinach). So you’d need two different filters, one for the LEGOs and one for all the other trash, but then what if the vacuum cleaner gets confused and ends up putting the trash in the LEGO bin and the LEGOs in the trash one, and then you just have a bigger mess than when you started. (This is where my mind wanders when my kids are creating worlds with words and all talking at the same time and my brain hits overload.) I’m sure there are much smarter people working on this than me.
We now have the option of renting LEGOs. Which honestly sounds like a nightmare waiting to happen. If we lose library books that are as big as my face, you better believe we’re going to lose LEGO pieces.
So I guess we’ll just stick with our own. I’m getting callouses from stepping on the invisible ones anyway. Pretty soon LEGO pieces won’t be able to penetrate these feet, and I’ll give up caring that somebody detonated a bin of LEGOs up in here.
This is an excerpt from The Life-Changing Madness of Tidying Up After Children, the second book in the Crash Test Parents series. To get access to some all-new, never-before-published humor essays in two hilarious Crash Test Parents guides, visit the Crash Test Parents Reader Library page.