Legos, which I took way to far.

This is, unfortunately, less media based than I’d like, but it does get into what parents wanted for their kids and so on. I didn’t do much, play wise, besides play with legos, so they were the natural choice. 

I played with Legos a lot as a kid. But I was also really into repurposing things. The two of those things joined hands at a very early age. Legos were originally intended to build your own little contraptions, they were always a very “make believe” kind of toy. Get your Lego kits, build them. Most kids don’t stop there, they take apart their sets (or drop them) after a while, and build new stuff. I went way beyond that. My Lego usage left fantasy land far behind and turned them into ACTUAL BUILDING MATERIALS! By the time I was eight I started using my legos to modify my life, making toothbrush holders or picture frames. By the time I was ten, I was building wall mounted shelves. I would occasionally build a castle or an airplane, but it was mostly practical things. My night stand was built out of lego, I would fix broken table legs with legos, I even built a lamp. 

Legos weren’t intended for this sort of engineering. When my parents bought them for me, I think they assumed I would play nicely by myself, which originally I did, but once I started to fix things (or put giant holes in the drywall of my room trying to wall mount shelves) the “play nicely by myself” part ended. Griffin said that parents wanted to “regulate and institutionalize play” so I wouldn’t get myself hurt: that didn’t work out so well for my parents. The company actually makes a wonderful product. It allows kids to build their own make-believe land, it’s like a make your own Disneyland in a box; you could buy western legos, futuristic legos, medieval legos, even every day scenes. Legos were a great toy that combined imagination and building, it was that ultimate left brain/right brain toy. The math kids would build complicated structures but still work creatively, and the creative kids could make whimsical imaginary lands, but still learn about math and physics. For this reason, Legos operated in the parental sweet spot. They were great for just about any kid, they were safe (no swallowing,) they kept youngsters were quiet (mostly, especially when compared to other activities, and they were very mentally stimulating. The toy was perfect. The only downside was the mess, which I personally took to a new level (see above drywall destruction.) For most parents, Legos had the same effect that Davy did. For Crocket, kids would no longer play as many violent cowboys and indians games, but “survey the ‘frontier’ that lay before them.” Legos took kids away from playing knights and castles with mock swords and gave them an entire world to control, complete with miniature swords that only posed a swallowing hazard (not a problem after age 10.) 

I repurposed the toy. My dad is a big do-it-yourself guy, so I’ve always been around a “build it if you want it” attitude, unfortunately, at 10, I couldn’t quite use a table saw safely, so I was left to my little technicolor blocks. I wouldn’t say I “challenged the design function” of Legos, but I took them to their logical limit (sometimes straying into the illogical.) There isn’t a lego table leg repair kit sold on the market, just it doesn’t exist. I didn’t use the toy as it was presented, to create a personal imaginary world (and be god in it,) I used legos to emulate my dad. There was rarely a project I didn’t show off to him. I had little to no use for the little lego men (and sometimes women) because they were for the fantasy world, all of them were dumped into a stock castle and got knights armor (of which I had a lot because the castle sets had the most black and grey bricks, which were best for engineering.) The whole safety thing was obviously not in my interests, to a certain extent however legos kept me safe (aka AWAY from power-tools, for the time being anyways.) I did get in all sorts of shenanigans of questionable safety (see drywall fiasco above.) 

All in all, I didn’t use Legos for their intended purpose, but surprisingly their benefits were still passed on to me. They kept me safe (sorta), I could interact with other kids (for a while at least,) they kept me quiet and orderly (minus some drywall) and they definitely kept me mentally stimulated. 

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3 thoughts on “Legos, which I took way to far.

  1. I love how they provided a way for you to emulate your dad — so do you think they trained you in masculinity, only in brightly colored capitalistic form (you do have to buy kits, afterall)…..what’s the difference between building things with Legos and, say, with blocks? Or sticks? Or learning to whittle?

  2. I really like how your mentioned that your parents bought you Legos so that you would play safely by yourself, and instead started causing damage to your house. I also think that it was interesting that you did use Legos for their semi-intended purpose (you did build things with them), but still put your own flair on it and made them your own. After you started causing damage to your house, did your parents ever try to push you to start building the castles and airplanes again? Did they try to reign in the “entire world you control?”

  3. I think that this is a very important concept that is easily overlooked, and I love that you used legos to point it out. As kids, we don’t like an item because its advertised purpose is useful, we like it because it looks cool for some reason. This is why kids are so easily entertained, because they rarely recognize the “intended purpose” of an object. Instead they take an object and figure out what it can be used for. As we get older we stray from this creativity–for example, I no longer use my mattress to slide down the stairs, but I definitely did that when I was younger–as I bet there are very few pieces of lego furniture in your room here. This mix and matching of objects and uses is so present when our minds are so maleable, but as we grow up this concept translates into a kind of tricky “problem solving” strategy, rather than a mechanism for maximizing fun. It’s incredible how today we struggle to use an object for anything other than its intended purpose, but when we were younger it couldn’t have mattered less.

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