Friday, November 20, 2009

Dreaming in Lego

My sons eat, drink, live , breath Lego. They must dream in it by now. Their Christmas lists, 100% Lego. What they play with, Lego. What they talk about with their friends, what they draw, what they read about, what they look up online...Lego.

Liam spent hours quietly at the kitchen table laboriously drawing and printing out page after page of plans for his ultimate Lego Power Miners set (sample page above). He got hand cramps. He took a break. He got back on it again.

Here's one from Elliot. This time a Lego Indiana Jones set. They dream of submitting these plans to Lego and having their sets made (Lego does this sometimes).

I came on here today wanting to share what was in my heart for my sons...the swelling pride, the crushing fears. But Maggie May at Flux Capacitor has already done it far more poignantly and eloquently than I ever could. How to raise these kids that don't "fit in the box"? How to keep hoping for them and holding onto optimism, when you see them lose all of theirs little by little, and when all you hear day after day are the worries, the problems, the diagnoses looming larger than the small boy himself?

My sons are only in Grade 4, but they struggle already. The burden of a painfully self conscious teen laid on 9 year old shoulders. Way too smart in ways, and in others impossibly lost. And always so different from the other kids. No hope of blending in with the crowd, and sensory, executive function and processing challenges that make it oh, so difficult to rise above, or even to keep up, or even to deal with going through the basic motions some days.

Yet there is a spark, a warmth, an enthusiasm for what they love, a creative depth, an ability to persevere, an insight far beyond their years that belies their Aspie label, and incredible, incredible bravery. What will they become? And how can we guide them to it? How to shield them from the ass-hattery of the world enough to keep their abilities and optimism alive, while letting them learn the truth of how it works, and letting them test their own strengths against it? How much to push them out there? How much to gather them in to safe arms and quiet rooms, and let them recover from the attempts? When to be soft and when to draw the firm line? And how to find enough hours in the day to teach them everything they need to know...things that most kids just naturally learn on their own, but that my sons have to be taught, carefully, repetitively, plainly.

If only parenting had instructions as clear as a box of Lego. You need 4 of this piece, put them here, here, here and here, like so...very good, next step, and before you know it, you've built them childhoods that are amazing! But no, we muddle along, a piece here, a piece there, with no instructions and no clear picture of what the end result will be. We have to try to pry off the wrongly placed bricks as we go, and sometimes the whole thing falls apart in our hands...and we have to start again, and again. But the crucial thing, I guess (beyond just not ever quitting), is to never stop believing that it can and will in the end become something amazing.

It just has to.


  1. The secret is to know there is no box...
    sorry that popped into my head, which is spinning still from Maggie's post, your comment, my own heart, this post, the post I don't even need to write, because it's already out there. So ditto, my mom friend of beautifully original amazing creatures loved fiercely.
    Ass hattery indeed! If only there were a vaccine or sunblock for that problem!
    And oh, for the instruction booklet on life. As if I would read it anyway. My boy and I both plunge in, directions unopened, trying to experience it and figure it all out on our own. Maybe that's as good as it gets... At least there are hugs and backscratches and conversations yet to help us all through.
    Wishing you and your boys easier times and sweet dreams and Lego mania! Here's to amazing things.

  2. Legos? Sounds better than princesses....

    No box that's for sure...we're entering pre-school soon..and I am worried, yet proud at the same time. Does she know Farmer in the Del? No..but she knows lots of other the story of Sea Biscuit all evens out in the wash.

    happy weekend, Evangeline!

  3. I wanna come play legos with you guys. I remember playing with Legos for the first time when I was about 8 and we kept all the legos in a big old suitcase. I'm sure there may have been a box at some point, but a lady that rode my dad's bus gave them to us in that suitcase. The closest to a specialty set, were the 2x4s with wheels. My mom would only let us get them out on special weekends, usually while she was down on her hands and knees scrubbing and waxing the kitchen floor. And it wasn't uncommon for a fight to break out because someone was hording all of the type that someone else needed. And my younger brother would take all of 1x2's and put them on his teeth and pretend he had lego tooth caps (and then they would ever fit together quite right agan) or a legopyre (if he bit you with those things, you turned into one, too!) and one very special saturday my dad joined us with a plan and we built a huge square tower with an opening at the bottom and when my dad thought it was tall enough (waist high for an 8 year old) he dissappeared and reappeared with a huge bag of gumballs and a lego piece that he had fashioned to fit in the opening at the bottom and to serve as a dispenser for this giant gumball machine that we didn't even know we had been making.

    *returns from trip down Memory Lane*

    I admire the fact that your boys are warm and loving and creative and smart (in ways that others may or may not understand). I admire that you are making conscious choices with your time and energy and the way you are positively engaged in their lives (when you could be scrubbing and waxing your floor ;) ).

    "We do the best we can with what we know, and when we know better, we do better" - Maya Angelou.

  4. Same with Svea. Lego on her mind. It's the only toy she accepts. She hates shopping and toys that are not selfmade. But LEGO is different. Her Xmas wish: a space ship.

  5. Me again. your giveaway has arrived! Thank you so so much! It's beautiful and Svea likes it too!

  6. Yes, Maggie May did a wonderful job! She had me crying for the entire day, and I kept reading and re-reading. You expressed yourself so eloquently too. I have a son in the 4th grade, and he too is sensitive, intelligent (LOVES legos!!!) a joy! Yet I worry about the future and what it has in store.

  7. You are clearly a wonderful mother. You will do just fine. It is scary, though, isn't it? Parenting.

    Your boys are lucky to have you.

    God bless all of you.

    Love, SB.


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