Thursday, February 24, 2011

Legos — Yeah, We Got 'Em

Last week I read this post by a mom that has a love-hate relationship with Lego blocks. I know where she's coming from. All five of our children have gone through Lego phases. I have two that are true Lego-maniacs. We have been accumulating Legos for at least a decade and a half. We literally have thousands of Lego blocks. (Maybe tens of thousands.)

Legos are kind of like the force in Star Wars. They have a light side and a dark side. On the light side, says the mom, Legos "are hours upon hours of fun" and "help young minds conceptualize, construct and be creative."

On the dark side, Legos "are eye-popping, jaw-dropping, brain-blowing expensive." Legos never stay in one place. They are insidious. They end up in the most remote nooks and crannies of homes and automobiles. They end up on the floor. And then you step on them, as Tim Hawkins explains in the following video.

I'm not as down on Legos as the mom is. I think that there are a couple of reasons for this. One is that I grew up with my own Legos. The blocks we had back then were actual blocks. That is, they were blocky. We didn't have all of the amazing shapes, configurations, and colors that Lego offers nowadays.

While I was careful to keep my few personal sets apart from the family's conglomerated Lego collection for most of my formative years, all of the Legos eventually ended up in a bucket. After years of being played with by five boys, the bucket sat in the laundry room until my parents started having grandkids come over. Then the Legos enjoyed hours of play once again.

That is part of the answer to the incredible expense of Legos. They are timeless. Yes, we have Star Wars, Harry Potter, Indiana Jones, ninja, alien, and other themed Lego sets, but the blocks continue to be played with long after the sets have disappeared into the larger Lego collection. Legos are useful for decades while the latest $60 computer game is useful, on average, for about 90 days.

Legos are also pretty high quality items. Years ago I bought several sets of another brand of Lego wannabe blocks. The kids detected the difference right away. I scoffed at this at first, but you know what, they were right. The other brands simply aren't as well made as Legos, even though, they offer some cool looking sets.

My wife sometimes despairs about the mass of Legos that migrate around our home. We've got one boy right now that has great difficulty taking apart any Lego creation that he has lovingly crafted from his own imagination. After a play session the floor of his room is strewn with completed sets that he will only put on the shelves at greatest urging.

But the hours and years spent with Legos beats many of the other pursuits in which kids commonly engage nowadays.

Yes, Legos are expensive. Yes, they get scattered all over. But in the end, I think they are worth the hassle. I can see us having thousands of Legos around our house for many years to come.

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