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."
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.
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.
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.
(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.)