This winter is certainly starting to wear thin on our nerves. As the East Coast battles its latest storm and the aftermath, cabin fever is running amok at our house. We’ve had more snow days than school days since forever, and the novelty of sledding and snowball fights has grown tired.
This is starting to become our winter of discontent.
If you’re a literary sort, you may notice that the title of this post and the reference above allude to works from the great master, William Shakespeare. I seem to be in a Shakespeare sort of mind. Indeed, this winter is one of history (the worst power outage in Pennsylvania history); comedy (the boys and I building our first igloo in the yard); and tragedy (trees and power lines falling around us like Armageddon).
But the reason Shakespeare is present in this post may surprise you. It’s not because I’ve curled up with one of the Bard’s classic plays by the fire, it’s because of LEGOs. Yes, LEGOs.
If you have kids and you don’t live under a rock (or you didn’t live under one until the latest ice storm), then you are aware that The LEGO Movie comes out today. Yes, dear reader, by the time you see this post, we may have already seen this epic film. I am genuinely excited. My boys are LEGO freaks. Plus, the film is getting great reviews and stars all the people I’d like to hang out with if I were famous–Chris Pratt, Elizabeth Banks, and a few of the great Wills of our time: Will Ferrell, Will Arnett and Will Forte. And one of the characters in the film is the greatest Will of all time.
LEGOs abound in my house. I step on them when I enter my sons’ rooms. I put them in various bins and boxes whenever I come upon discarded pieces. I’ve created shelves and cleared bookcases so my boys’ creations would last–they don’t. And all of these aspects drive me crazy.
But the one thing I love about LEGOs is how they captivate the imagination. My boys can play with them for hours. And they create and recreate various scenes with the thousands of pieces that litter our house. So, it’s not uncommon for me to come upon various tableaus of LEGO figures everywhere I turn: the dining room table, the kitchen counter, the bathroom sink, and every floor space imaginable–none on the damn shelves I put up for display, though!
Here is a LEGO scene created by my seven-year-old this morning that sits behind me on the kitchen counter while I type:
And it is these types of things that I have come to love–and expect–as a parent. My boys create all over the house. They build. They destroy. They imagine. And I bear witness to it all. Pre-kids, this would have driven me crazy. I would have viewed it as clutter and crap. But little by little my defenses have been whittled down. Now, it’s like pop-up pop culture surrounds me.
And sometimes, worlds collide. When LEGO announced the latest minifigure series in honor of the movie, the boys were ecstatic. And I had to laugh, because I became excited that Shakespeare was part of the lineup.
“If one of you gets Shakespeare, can I have it?”
“Because I’m an English teacher!” NOTE: I do know I should have said “may” in my question above, but we don’t talk like that all the time:) “Shakespeare is the greatest writer of all time,” I continued.
I proceeded to describe Shakespeare to the boys. Then, I was like a kid when they opened the wrappers for their minifigures. And lo and behold, Hayden DID get Shakespeare and I now get to watch Will in action as he makes his way around the house.
Like this little scenario I came upon the other night:
It’s Will riding on the hood of a fire truck with a mermaid behind him. It’s sounds like the premise of a bad joke. But it is simply one of the many bizarre, wonderful creations of my boys thanks to LEGOs. When I came upon it, I laughed out loud. Here was one of my idols, a man who intimidated me as a teacher for years, in a rather absurd scenario. It’s as if Will is riding around on his imagination thinking up one of his many fantastical stories–The Tempest, perhaps?
And then it dawned on me–that’s just the way Shakespeare would have wanted it. As he would say: “The play’s the thing.” And LEGOs have taught my sons how to play, how to create, how to dream. And I hate that this post sounds like a cheesy ad for LEGO, but they have been integral to my sons’ childhood–and a huge deficit to our bank account.
But as I sit with the doldrums of winter, and we all try to weather these storms, it is my sons’ LEGO scenes, and the iconic characters they employ, that help remind me that all of this is part of a bigger story. The plot of Life continues to be surprising and challenging; random and riveting.
I’m reminded of my son Owen’s words the other night as we prepared to sleep in front of the fireplace due to no electricity: “It’s an adventure!” he shouted enthusiastically. And it is. All of it.
I think Shakespeare would agree.