45 Simple Safety Rules For Living Life & Not Dying
Ikeness Interlude

You Are The Lego Beneath My Wings

Prior to — oh, the EXACT MINUTE the end credits of The Lego Movie started to roll — Legos were pretty much Noah's exclusive domain.

It's always been soothing for him, I think, to sit and tackle a big, complicated set, step by step. His visual-spatial skills are pretty amazing, and those Lego instruction books always managed to cut through his attention and focus issues. He enjoys building his "own" versions of things as well, and is thankfully pretty flexible and accepting of the fact that inevitably, most of his sets will break apart and eventually get completely assimilated into the Borg of his Lego bag. But there's always the Next Set He Wants, the bigger the better, so he can spend hours building it and perhaps gain a small sense of control in a world full of sensory chaos.

Ezra, on the other hand, Did Not Get It. Any Of It.

He WANTED to love Legos, you could tell. Noah loves Legos, Ezra loves Noah (like, to epic levels), and so Legos must be super amazingly cool and awesome. So he'd request Legos of his own, and would even forgo buying something I knew he REALLY wanted with his own birthday/allowance money in favor of a Batman Street Race Mega Racer Whatever set.

And then we'd get home, open the box and hand him the instructions and he'd promptly melt to the floor with boredom. And Noah would end up building it for him. Every freaking time. 

But then The Lego Movie happened and suddenly "building creatively" became an actual pasttime that my kids talk about, using those exact words and everything..

"Thanks for lunch, Mom," Noah says. "If you need me I'll be Building Creatively."

"Look, Mom," Ezra says, "It's an elephant. I Built it Creatively."

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So now, Ezra is every bit as Lego Bonkers as Noah, just in his own way. Every flat surface in the house is now covered with complicated, technicolor Lego creations that Ezra has built and immediately declared to be Super Special and Important So Don't Put It Back In The Lego Bag. Some of them are huge and sprawling; others are maybe four or five pieces stuck together; all of them are precious to him and sources of great pride. 

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He builds houses with multiple levels and staircases, fills them with furnishings (including double-decker couches, yes) and then plays with them for hours — this is the Ninja Turtles' hideout, this is where mermaids live, this is a prison full of bank robbers and look look Mom Mom I built the bank robbers a cooking place because even bank robbers need to cook food or else they will die. He's built multiple damn-good replicas of the Starship Enterprise and completely charmed the shit out of Jason and I with a tiny, perfect little snail

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Hours. Just like this. The two of them. Ezra likes to climb into the middle of the bag and pluck pieces out of the sea around him, while Noah prefers to sit on the step and survey his choices from above.

And yet they do not fight. At all. No bickering, no territory squabbles, no "he touched me he took my toy he breathed my air" nonsense. They chat about their respective projects or what happened at that day at school. Ezra asks questions about movies and TV shows that I know he knows the answer to, so it's like he's purposely indulging Noah's desire to describe plots and dialogue in encyclopedic detail. They work together on big, multiple-element ideas, they help each other find pieces and way to bury the lede, Amy, because this is really what I was coming here to say. THEY DO NOT FIGHT. 

And even better: Ezra's freeform building style encourages Noah to not be so set- and perfection-focused, while Noah's vision for what the finished product should look like seems to help Ezra stick with the task longer, and attempt more complicated structures. Ike will sit on the sidelines as well, practicing with his Duplos or playing with a Lego Enterprise Ezra built for him. All they ask is that he not Break Their Shit, and otherwise he's welcome to join in and help them find the correct hair for a minifigure. He seems to recognize his inclusion as an honor, and behaves more or less accordingly.

And even more better: It's bled out into the real, non-Lego world. They've stopped antagonizing each other for attention. The games they play aren't constantly escalating to the SOMEONE'S GOING TO GET HURT level. The other day Ezra gave Noah a spontaneous hug in the mall parking lot and said, "I LOVE YOU NOAH." (Noah looked surprised and only responded with a slightly confused, "Thank you?" But he hugged Ezra back very nicely.) 

Anyway, I'm sure it's not just the Legos — a hefty dose of maturity has maybe finally come around? But they actually seem to be...enjoying each other's company. Like real friends, and playmates. The kind of sibling relationship that I hoped against hope was in there somewhere, in between the beatings and the fights over empty milk containers

It's so goddamn wonderful it almost makes this perpetual mess worth it. 

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(Almost. I make them clean all that up every night, which has also become a bonding experience in and of itself, because they are united in solidarity against Me and my Terrible Meanness and the Unfairness Of It All.)

Comments

rebecca

About halfway through, I started waiting for the 'April Fools!' part of this post. Because this Lego magic has not yet happened in my house.

Vicki

Ahhh, brotherly love. It's a good thing.

Natalie

Great, now I have to have another baby. Thanks a LOT Amy.

Michelle B

Ceiba is all "I'm too old for this shit."

DontBlameTheKids

This is everything I want for my girls. That is all. Please excuse me while I go fix my mascara in the ladies' room.

Stephanie

My girls (2 and almost 5) are in the fight-fight-fight and then whine-whine-whine phase. I'm hoping when they're the same age as Noah and Ezra, they'll be better friends.

Our older daughter loves building creatively with her Duplos, and her sister loves to knock it all down, thus all the fighting. /Sigh

Faith

Ceiba's shadow looks like a donkey.. Or a horse. Just me?

RzDrms

Okay, I lost it at "Ezra asks questions about movies and TV shows that I know he knows the answer to, so it's like he's purposely indulging Noah's desire to describe plots and dialogue in encyclopedic detail" and then got teary AGAIN at the mall hug! Between this and Noah's "Never go in the purple potty" advice of yore, your kids are STILL my favorite interweb children, with Noah being my favoritest because (in part) of his desire to need some sort of control in this super-hyper world I seem to live in too. I can relate to that big time, little man.

Linda

Do you think the meds that Noah is on have anything to do with the boys getting along better? Just curious, I guess...

BJ

My boys (4, 7, 9) will spend HOURS quietly building, appraising each others work, discussing new sets to purchase. Then they take a break to beat on each other, but always back to the world of LEGO. Which is how I justify the fact my shoes have holes in them, the dishwasher is giving out, but you better believe I will drop a few hundred on some sweet new lego sets- long live lego! I remember when the youngest was finally given the green light to join the group- it was a proud moment to be sure!

Heide

I can't even tell you how many treasured lego creations we have displayed in The Offspring's room that are precious and can not be disassembled. I am so glad to know we're not the only household so ... adorned.

Amy

Amalah, I love you; I truly do. And I do love your writing. But please, for the love of proper English grammarians everywhere, please, please take note: "completely charmed the shit out of Jason and ME." You're welcome. Really. You will thank me, and I suspect your former English teacher would, as well :)

Kate

We'll be welcoming our second boy in 3 months and this post made me so happy. Of course they will hate each other sometimes, but there are some things in life (like Legos) that are best shared with your brother. Creatively build on, guys!

Mary Jo

Beautiful post, Amy! Beautiful boys, too!

Brooke

So, basically you are saying that "EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!"

Amy in StL

Ceiba is all, "Why is my world covered with little plastic things that are not food?" Also, MOAR CEIBA!

Tabby_abby

How incredibly sweet. There might have been some crying.

Rosie

Oh. This one got me. There is something about when our younger one is engaged with the older one (who is much like Noah in some ways) that would make me walk over single legos barefoot after a pedicure. It's HARD to be the younger brother of a high needs kid. All the drama, all the "extra" attention, all the worry ours carries in his eyes sometimes. When they are simply Brothers Who Like to Play Together it feels like magic.

Chasity Dix

I loved this post. I partly loved it because it linked back to the milk carton post, which makes me laugh my ass off every time I read it, and partly because it gives me hope that my not-yet-born-kids will get along with their not-yet-born-siblings. One day.

jill (mrschaos)

I love this. My kids can be such jerks to each other, but then all of a sudden they're so loving and adorable that my heart explodes. I try to be cool about it, though. Pretend I don't see a thing.

Jill

Mine boys are 5 and 2 and my twin girls are 11 months and we are in the constant *battlebattlebattle* *crycrycy* *whinewhinewhine* phase and this just gave me SO MUCH HOPE that things will get better. The 5 year old beat on the 2 year old but loves on the little ones. The 2 year old beats on the girls and teases his brother. One of the babies beats on everyone but gets away with it because she's cute. I'm ready to move onto everyone playing nicely and out of my hair for at least an hour or two at a time.

Leigh Ann

I love those magical moments where they get along.

My girls didn't really "get" that part of the LEGO movie. My husband is the master builder in the family. He builds them robots, castles, cars, you name it. I can build a house. More like a box with a window.

Allie

Nice post.
For clean up: have them play on a big sheet. Pick up corners of sheet and put in box. Pick up in 30 seconds flat.

Susan

Love this! We're in a similar phase with Duplos (because I am just not ready for the mayhem of a billion tiny pieces). In this relationship I'm the very rigid one - "Look at the picture on the box! This is how it's supposed to go!" while the 3 and 5 year olds roll their eyes and build their cat apartment building (with Lightning McQueen on the roof, of course...) and other inspired randomness.
I bought the IKEA Trofast to contain it all, and sometimes after they're in bed I go and sort the pieces by color (dammit, why don't Trofast bins come in all the same colors as Duplos?) because that's a form of meditation for me, I suppose. Without fail the first thing I hear after the boys enter the playroom the next morning is the sound of 7 bins of Duplos being dumped into one big pile...

I'm sure you've read this, but I really loved it: http://www.womenyoushouldknow.net/little-girl-1981-lego-ad-grown-shes-got-something-say/

Lauren

What is Ceiba's opinion of legos?

Barbara

HA, I love how you ended this, because the whole time I was wondering "How can she stand to have all that Lego stuff everywhere??" My boys are 2 and 3 1/2, so they are still at the beat-each-other-up-all-the-time stage. But I have hope they might move beyond that. And now, I might make them clean up all their crazy Thomas the train messes every night. :)

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