Lego man

He dumped Lego Blocks all over the dining room table. Picking up the red, white or blue blocks one at a time, he gave each of us the same number of each size of the interlocking building blocks. We each received blocks with wheels and blocks that formed doors and windows or roof. We all started equally equipped.
“Now let’s each build something,” he challenged me and the 8-year-old and 5 year-old sons. “You can trade pieces, if you want.”
As a father who had worked in design, he had an advantage over the boys, but he never let that bother him. He offered to swap little pieces for the long axles he had handed out to each person. Who could use just one tire? If he wanted the one I had, he could have it. We traded without a qualm.
An hour later we looked at our completed constructions. The children had fashioned simple structures. I had an unfinished house and the man with the plan had a hot rod.
That was my introduction to the versatility of Lego Blocks and my husband’s love for the things. Thanks to his interest, the children always had plenty of the red, white and blue blocks of plastic that my tender toes discovered in the middle of the night – long after I thought I had swept them all safely out of reach into their storage box.
Even when we pinched our pennies twice, our family builder found ways and means to add more blocks for his expanding family of sons. The day, 25 years ago, when I found a bushel of them at a yard sale, we finally had enough. Not even the dining room table sufficed for the building spree that followed my find. The kids spent the next three days out on the patio absorbed in creating anything and everything they ever wanted to build without having to share or scrounge for blocks.

In the spirit of Toy Story 3, as the boys and girl grew up, I handed our supply along to younger families. But with the advent of the grandchildren – especially grandsons who spent hours designing and building with Legos with a builder’s mindset – we renewed our building block fetish.
My four-year-old grandson and I found a dirty bucket of Legos at a yard sale last fall. I paid a couple of coins, took them home, tossed them in a tied pillow case and washed them with the towels. Then my husband spent hours sorting, counting, organizing, and gloating over our new-found wealth in wet Lego Blocks.

So it came as no surprise last month when the grandkids came to stay for the weekend, that the first toy out of the closet was the blue box of Legos. The four-year-old grandson had not even dressed for the day. He ate a hurried breakfast with his departing parents and then he and grandpa took over the dining room table for a Lego building marathon.

He stayed in pajamas all day. He stood on a chair at the dining room table creating towers and rockets with his grandfather. His little sister ignored them as she dragged oversized baby dolls around asking me to help her dress and undress them.

Her brother might head for the Legos when he woke up – she grabbed a doll from her bed and reached up for me to lift them both up and out.
He paused long enough for a nap before he and Grandpa returned to building again. They branched out to the marble slide and the race cars, but the Lego Blocks remained readily available. The couple of times little sister curiously approached the table of Lego towers with doll in hand, it was at her own risk of incurring her brother’s protective wrath.
Before they left on Monday, we had marbles and Lego bricks underfoot and baby dolls slumped in various corners around the house. Before their parents came, we swept everything into the toy cupboard, dressed the children and baby dolls in their proper clothes and prepared them for re-entry to the real world outside of the land of Legos.

(Joan Hershberger is a reporter at the News-Times. E-mail her at