I stepped barefoot on a Lego today It was a 4 X 4 red Lego brick. If you have never done that, it is a very unique and special pain. It sort of feels like shoving a red-hot ice pick into your foot. The whole experience brought a tear to my eye. It wasn’t the type of tear that normally accompanies the shoving of an ice pick into your foot, but a tear of joy. You see, the lego was not mine, but it was my son’s. His legos were scattered around the floor like little plastic pieces of confetti. “Happy Birthday Lego,” I said to myself as I limped down my son’s hallway.
You see, this is a very special rite of passage for sons and fathers that has been handed down generation to generation for the past fifty years. My father impaled his foot on legos and his father did it before him. I can still hear my father screaming “Chris, you have to pick up your toys!” as he limped down his hallway.
I had thousands of Legos, honestly, my lego collection totaled well over 10,754. Many of them, the ones that didn’t surrender to the vacuum cleaner or the heater vents, have been handed down to my son. Exactly 346 of those Legos came from my father (the ones made after 1963 still work with today’s).
I remember my Lego sets fondly. I didn’t have a Star Wars Lego Set (kids these days and their fancy George Lucas Legos), but I did have multiple space sets. These were my absolute favorites. I had a space shuttle, a moon base (complete with large moonscape), and a series of space fighters. Space Legos sets were my absolute favorites. My imagination was allowed to blast off as I constructed intricate moonscapes and fought furious space battles. I beat the aliens with impunity as my space heroes and their little yellow heads smiled dashingly.
My son saw me limping and looked up at me apologetically. “I’m sorry Dad,” he said to me as he began to put his Legos away.
I told him that those Legos were fifty years old today. He looked at me quizzically and said, “No they’re not dad, I got them for Christmas.”
I stopped him from putting his Legos away and invited him to play with me. As we began to fabricate our fantasies, I tried to explain to my six year old the importance of tradition and what makes something a “classic.” I told him about my father, and how he played with Legos as a kid, and I showed him some of the bricks that belonged to him. It was obvious that I had lost him; he just wanted to build. Before I new it, we had two massive space ships, a space station, and a race car (the race car won the space battle by the way).
When we finished, we put the Legos away. I enjoyed playing with my son, but I wished that he understood the simplicity and the beauty of the moment. As he got up to put the Legos way he screamed and dropped the tub of Legos. He looked down, and there it was, a red brick impaled on the bottom of his foot.
I kissed his foot, and gave him a hug. We both had tears in our eyes. He understood more than I thought he did.
Happy Birthday Lego, and thank you.