You love the kids. It’s not that. It’s the LEGO that’s pushing you toward a primary-colored edge you didn’t even know was there. And now there is going to be a LEGO movie called The LEGO Movie. The kicker is that having worked and been unceremoniously “let go” from a LEGO-based after school service provider for gifted and talented kindergarteners, you know the lingo and are intimate with the vocabulary of your tormentor. It is always LEGO. Never Legos. They are bricks not pieces. Your average LEGO starter kit contains axles, plates, wheels, bricks, a tree, a tiny notched disk painted to look like a pizza. The humanoids are called Minifigures, not dolls, guys, or dudes. LEGO is a great teaching tool. LEGO is unisex. LEGO is not a toy. It’s a tool.
But like an airborne Ebola virus, LEGO cannot be contained. You have LEGO in the bathtub, LEGO in a special ceramic bowl in your kitchen, LEGO crammed between couch cushions, LEGO in the naughty drawer next to your marital bed, nestled between a self-heating lubricant and a sleep mask that began as a gag gift, because you didn’t know where the hell else to put the LEGO. You have, in your weaker moments, gleefully vacuumed up bricks without apology, smiling to yourself, smug as a contract killer as LEGO after LEGO after LEGO clattered up the Dyson’s sinister throat. More than once have you lacerated your foot on Superman’s razor-sharp wig, plucked it from your battle scarred foot bed, and flung it across the room, blinded by tears of betrayal.
Not proud. Not sorry. This is war.
And yet. When you least expect it, that exquisite moment arrives when the children are quiet as brain surgeons. They’ve taken the blue LEGO bin from the toy shelf. Pin-spotted by a heavenly light, a choir of Harvard Law School admissions interviewers sing Verdi, their mouths perfect Os as your progeny’s small hands—their innocent knuckles still pudgy with youth!—reach tremblingly into the chaos seeking the perfect brick, the right helmet, the jet ski windshield from the kit in the goody bag from that party at LEGOLAND last weekend where you spent your last unemployment check on a Yoda Minifigure keychain and two SpongeBob SquarePants Bikini Bottom play sets. They quietly fit bricks together with soft clicks. They pick through their collection like seagulls on a landfill, slack-jawed with higher brain function reverie. There’s a rhythm between them, audible as a song, that you associate with engaged learners, intelligent play, the great promise of LEGO, why you keep buying it and why it is, perhaps too happily, given. You suddenly and all at once feel perhaps not like the Best Parent Ever, but at the very least like you are doing one thing right. Yes! Subscribing them both to the LEGO Club Magazine, a bi-monthly brainwasher “full of comic adventures, games and puzzles, building challenges and Cool Creations” was just as good as if not better than enrolling them in weekend advanced robotics classes. If this keeps up, can M.I.T. be far behind? LEGO is so inspirational that for the most fleeting of moments you compare the meticulous building of skyscrapers, spacecraft, and Samurai warrior robot suits to the very world-building of great literature. The world is their goddamned oyster!
All thanks to you. You are doing it. This is what parenting IS. Your children, those intelligent and precocious nippers who want for nothing, are going to change the world for the better in ways you are not wise enough to imagine. And then, in a moment, the blink of an eye, all the time a tragedy needs to take root—
Death squeals from an abattoir are sweet music compared to this cacophony. Those gifted and talented knee-biting engineers have, again, dumped a lifetime’s collection, heartlessly, cruelly, without thinking of anyone or anything but their raging lust for LEGO! LEGO! LEGO! onto the floor, where they feel it belongs. The shrill clink of plastic against plastic, a thousand lost souls’ withering screams into purgatory, a skittering swarm across a shiny wooden floor- a floor you can actually see because just yesterday you spent the better part of three jobless hours finding random LEGO and sorting it by size and function. You bent down, again and again, a creaky-kneed Sisyphus, to retrieve each molded and Danish-designed piece of plastic, each tiny Lightsaber and Shuriken of Ice deep into the fleece pocket of your coffee-stained day robe, for The Kids. Who knows what last minute addition will take their Guggenheim-worthy LEGO Cool Creation to the next level and get them in the centerfold of the goddamned magazine?
The Sound always lasts longer than the laws of physics allow. Inside your head you scream ‘Nooooo!’—a parent on the brink of madness. But on the outside, the side your children see, you merely hang your head in resignation, humble in your helplessness over the role LEGO demands in your life. You see now that LEGO has become your unplanned third child—a messy, vindictive, self-centered toddler, the redheaded hanger-on that surely cannot be yours. The Kids are in it together
And the missing brick? The needle in their haystack, their holy grail of success and achievement buried beneath enough plastic that if you melted it all down you could make a ten-foot deep ball pit and have enough left over to make a lifetime supply of Tupperware?
“Found it!” they sing. Vindicated. Their futures forever secure! Right now, you are online preparing to pre-order tickets to The LEGO Movie, about a Minifigure everyman in Bricksburg destined to heroically defeat President Business. Seriously. It said so in the magazine. There is no turning back. You are committed, in it for the long haul, LEGO is forever and it’s going to chase you all the way to Hell. You are way too invested.