“Those stories are just pretend! (Mine are real!)”

February 14, 2014

Notable Stats

Haterade per Hour (HpH) – The amount of times jealousy lines the intent of a comment from one child to another. Measured in imaginary pictures of tongues sticking out.

One-up One-down Rate (1U1D) – The effort of one child to make himself look cooler as they diminish the value of the other’s efforts. The child with the higher rate is given the Haterade Crown of the Day.

Three children make for a quasi-big family at times. We stay in constant motion when they are all together, making sure one is safe, making sure fairness is honored, making sure no one feels slighted. Of course, this cycle has a twinge of impossibility surrounding it when we think about the insatiable nature of being a young child.

One exchange between our son, the oldest, and our oldest daughter (4) made for some interesting thoughts about the flashes of competitive (for our engagement) fire that can hit any child at any moment.
We were on a flight and at one point, from seeing the beginnings of a downward spiral of a five and four year old sitting next to each other on a plane for six hours, I decided to sit between them. I had been reading a book with my daughter that had magic and wands, kingdoms and moral dilemmas woven into its story. The book practically sparkled, but it had some substance in between the lines and I was reading it aware of its greater teachings (besides keeping my daughter occupied – they did exceptionally well on our flights).

Apparently, our son believed it to be time for his turn. Nevermind the encyclopedia I surprised him with that contained every ninja-Lego on earth (and their arch-enemies) cataloged or the fact that we were returning from Legoland which placed us 24-7, 360 degrees in a world of plastic moving blocks of magic. Despite all three of our children enjoying Legos, this particular stop in Lego-Nirvana was most enjoyed by our son.

He also was leafing through a Lego magazine which had some stories he was slowly deciphering with his early reading skills.
But upon seeing his Dad engulfed in the Kingdom of Sparkle, my reading with enthusiasm apparently offended his sensibilities. So he declared to his sister “Those stories in that book are just pretend! They are not real!” It was said in a tone of both condescension and utter disgust. In his body language was a turn of the body away from the book in a way that implied the Bubonic plague may jump off the pages and contaminate his soul.

I did not let him get away with that.

So, I expressed that although cool and imaginative, Legos that wear ninja-costumes while fighting wayward snakes and rabid undead skeletons to hide the golden weapons of the world of Ninjago was most likely “pretend” too. Then again, so was the last two days we spent at an entertaining and Lego-fied hotel at Legoland. We spent two days surrounded by amazing Lego-art and walking 8-foot Lego pirates. Call it a stretch, but this was also “pretend.”

Of course, Legos endure and continue to grow into every aspect of our pop culture. They have movies, and licensed products, hotels, and theme parks. I keep waiting for General Motors to sell Lego clones that you can order of yourself. Why not? But just because a product is everywhere and can turn into things we can touch and feel, does not mean it is in fact “real.” What Legos do for your imagination, I would venture to say, is more real than the evil Lego character Lord Garmadon taking his four “arms” and the bone on top of his head and knocking out his do-good brother Sensei Wu. But I digress.

Maybe my son was trying to save me from something. I could have taken it all wrong. He didn’t like his Dad getting all fired up about pixies or working on how to play another Frozen song on the piano. Fathers grapple with the macho-thing from time to time when the boy-girl thing is prevalently in your face. Nevertheless, I have long concluded that even my son does not have to rescue me from getting lost in my daughter’s world, I kind of believe being lost is the entire point.
So I return to the idea that maybe he didn’t want to share the only other boy in the family who happens to enjoy building eccentric quasi-military creations out of miniature plastic bricks. Fine, but it is a matter of time before one of the Lego-ninjas may like to wear a sparkly ninja outfit fighting pixies. I don’t know, but seeing that Lego is on the upswing, it could happen….soon and when it does, he will be the first to say … “cool!”

- Doug Glanville


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