LEGOs. You know, those tiny colorful bricks meant to spark creativity, plug your vacuum, or make you scream obscenities when you step on a stray. LEGOs come with nostalgia, vivid memories of creating endless possibilities. Recently though, I have realized that LEGOs also come with some valuable life lessons. As a mother of four, I occasionally find myself sounding like a motivational speaker or one of those desk calendars chock full of sarcastic phrases. (Not when I’m screaming about picking up the pieces scattered across my house like a landmine field, of course.) I’m thinking more about when I’m watching my children play with their LEGOs, usually together while I play referee. Here are some of the award-winning parenting quotes and life lessons that my children are learning thanks to these tiny blocks.
Just because it’s not how you would do it, it doesn’t mean it’s wrong.
This is probably the biggest lesson of all, the one that when I heard myself say it, I stopped and thought, ‘Oh wow, that’s deep.’ My children like to build very elaborate multistory houses, castles, businesses, etc. As with any activity involving multiple children, there are often heated discussions about how something should be done. Even as an adult, there are times at work when I look at something and think, “Uhhh, that’s not at all how I would do it,” and suppress the urge to tell people they are wrong. I want my kids to understand that their sibling might want a yellow roof when they wanted red, and it’s okay for them to disagree. There is no one right way to build something or one way that it has to look. If we all did everything the same, how boring would life be? We need different views and ideas to make our world better.
Sharing is caring.
No, my lovely child, you cannot hoard all the green LEGOs. Yes, I understand you are trying to build a jungle, but maybe only use 200 of the 400 green blocks that we have. I am not of the mindset that children must forfeit what they are using strictly because someone else wants it — I don’t think that’s fair either. But there’s something to be said about learning to not use all of something when we could compromise and let more people enjoy it with us. This applies to other important things in life, like cookies and parking spaces. We don’t need to channel our inner cookie monster and eat the whole tray, we can share. We don’t need to park like a jackass and take up multiple spots when one is sufficient. The takeaway here is this: Let’s think about others’ needs too, not just our own.
We don’t knock down your sister’s village!
Okay, maybe there aren’t actual villages in real life that we need to not knock down. But maybe let’s not destroy something that someone worked hard on, especially if we are doing it out of spite or anger. Let’s treat each other kindly, appreciate whatever it is they built or created, heck, maybe even ask if they need help. Instead of tearing each other down, we can build each other up! This lesson goes hand in hand with another…
I understand you’re angry, but we don’t throw blocks at your brother’s face.
I tell my own children and the ones I work with that “It’s okay to be mad, or sad or however it is you feel. You have a right to those feelings, but let’s figure out a better way to handle them.” We all learn or at least should learn at some point that when we are angry about a perceived injustice or maybe when someone knocks our village down that we can’t throw things. We all have to learn how to deal with our emotions in a healthy way. Maybe talking it out isn’t helpful in the moment, but step back, take a breather for a few minutes, and come back when we are better able to deal with it. Throwing that LEGO clear across the house does not fix the problem. If anything, it causes a bigger issue later when I’m walking barefoot and am stabbed between the toes, only to threaten to throw every damn brick in the trash. Ah, the irony of wanting to throw them in the trash. See, adults need the reminder, too.
I DON’T KNOW! Put ’em all together and build something cool.
This usually comes from the fact that we tend to buy the giant tubs of “classics” instead of the themed kits with instructions. Don’t get me wrong, they’re super cool, but I feel like the variety packs encourage more imagination and less arguing, to be honest. The first several times I heard a lot of “Ugh, but what am I supposed to build? There aren’t even instructions!” Naturally, this was said with a healthy dose of eye-rolling. One tiny LEGO might not seem that cool, but when you combine them, you can create something special. The more LEGOs you have working together, the more you can achieve something impressive! (At least that’s what I keep telling my husband every time I buy more blocks, oops.) This reminds us that when we join our voices and our efforts, we can make a real change. Each of us can feel small sometimes, like, “What difference can I make when I’m only one person?” And while life doesn’t come with an instruction manual, we achieve more when we work together.
At the end of the day, I really love LEGOs and finding ways to include life lessons into the most basic events. One of the best ways we can teach our children how to be good people, and therefore functioning members of society who will NEVER be called a Karen or a Chad, is to just pay attention to what they are doing. Even if that means simply listening to the borderline insane things they are saying while you scroll TikTok in the chair next to them. Be available to jump in with quality life lessons and a healthy dose of sarcasm, and maybe we can do alright at this whole parenting thing.