To let go of Legos? That is the question
POINT - Tom
Over the weekend, scrolling the Norwich listserv as I sipped my morning coffee, I nearly spit it out when the post titled “8 pounds of Star Wars Legos for $10!” crossed my gaze. What an unbelievable bargain, I thought. Who would possibly want to unload so many Legos so...cavalierly, and why?
Listserver Signe Taylor wrote: “My son loved Legos...with great gusto until a few years ago. He's now ready to part with 6 large bins of dismantled Lego sets.”
At this, I threw my mug across the room. Let me explain.
For the purpose of argument, I am that son of hers. (I’m not really.) I grew up with at least that many kilos of Legos, and I don’t exaggerate when I say that my twin brother and I logged thousands of hours with those millions of building blocks spread out across our basement’s linoleum floor.
Accumulated over several birthdays and Christmases, Lego sets in our house existed to be built according to plan, played with for a while, then deconstructed so as to be rebuilt according to our imagining. Lego never sold a convenience store set, but we built one. As well as a small church. And a seven-bedroom mansion (that was my brother’s) and a three-story apartment complex with on-site landlord (mine). Together these buildings formed a small, thriving community. A community constantly beset by car accidents and large explosions, but a community that came together in its hour of need.
As boys lacking foresight tend to do, we grew out of our Legos, too, and donated them. In one fell swoop, all those bins were bequeathed to neighbor kids a few years younger. Soon we moved away, never to be reunited with our toys.
And I’m here to tell you, Signe, it was a huge mistake. I have a young child now. Legos (new) cost an arm and a leg. I wake up every day nursing the constant wound of regret that I didn’t hang onto my Legos, and perhaps so will your son. My only other regret is that I didn’t reply to your post sooner, because now your Legos, too, are gone.
COUNTERPOINT - Mark
I write in defense of Signe, who is wise in the way of things, of holding on and letting go. Because that’s what it’s about, my young-ish friend Tom: Not Legos. But letting go.
Let me tell you what’s stored in my garage.
Bins of Beanie Babies.
A beginner drum set.
A yellow Tonka bulldozer and a yellow Tonka dump truck my son didn’t even play with when he was little.
Bratz dolls with missing feet.
Crash Test Dummies with missing legs, arms and heads.
Rocks. Seriously. A box labeled “Ben’s rocks.”
Something called pogs.
I could go on, but I won’t, because I want to get to my point.
Which is, first, our kids are no longer kids and don’t live here anymore. Only the boxes of their childhood do. Boxes that have moved three times, just like we have. Boxes that are heavy.
And you know what? They’re just things. They’re not nearly as valuable as memories -- and memories take up a lot less room.
REBUTTAL - Tom
Mark, I’ll tell you what aren’t just things but things that are garbage. Bratz dolls. The same could be said of your stockpile of Beanie Babies, but I’ll give you some credit for keeping those in the off chance the collectors’ market ever restores them to elite status. (Tip: they won’t.)
Consider this permission granted, then, to dispose of those time-stamped, limited-use gimmick playthings as you see fit. As for the rocks, well, don’t you have access to...the outdoors? And when you’ve freed up that space in the garage, think of how many of Signe’s Legos could have gone there instead.
Legos are eternal, and I am their Christopher Robin. The land of their infinite assembling and reassembling is my Hundred-Acre Wood. This needs no other defense.
Far, far beyond their resale value, shouldn’t Legos attain family heirloom status, as timeless as they are indestructible? Such that, eons from now, when a new civilization rises on the dust of this one, they will know what childhood was by the rainbow bins of tiny bricks they unearth. And they’ll clamp one brick to another, then another—imagination resumed.
But I’ll take those beginner drums off your hands.