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Some Assembly Required

Assembly Required

I never played with LEGOs as a kid. When I was growing up, those colored plastic blocks were more for boys than girls. I remember seeing a whole village built out of LEGOs in my cousins’ basement and maybe even attempting a few buildings myself. But it just wasn’t my thing. I was too busy trying to get Barbie and Ken (and their immobile oh-so-essential body parts) to make out. Even my sister, who was a tomboy — until she jettisoned into the world of designer jeans and hair products at the tender age of fourteen — didn’t do the LEGO thing. She preferred Star Wars figures, and holsters worn over pastel sundresses.

I cannot remember who gifted E his first set of LEGOs, or even when it was. But we — yes, we — have been hooked ever since. The first set came with a booklet that showed animals, cars, and houses that could be crafted out of this versatile toy. E was too young at the time to do any actually creative construction. (Although he really did enjoy stacking red 2x4s as high as they could possibly go.) So it was up to me to make the lion or the apple tree. E would point at the booklet, say, “Mommy, make this,” and I actually could. It was very satisfying.

Full disclosure: I’m not a particularly handy or crafty person. Examples? Here you go:

A) My sister came over the week after E was born to put together his crib. I didn’t even attempt it.

B) Last year on “Crazy Hat Day” at his school, E put a monkey visor on a cowboy hat and declared it a done deal. Obviously the non-craft gene runs in the family. I felt bad so I offered to put ribbons along the brim to perk it up a bit. “Nah, we’re good,” he declared. I was visibly relieved.

I can remember the first moment I realized how gratifying LEGO construction was for me. We were making a pirate ship (or was it a troll mine?) and were halfway through.

“That’s great, Mom,” E said, “Just leave it like that.”

“You might want to leave it,” I muttered through clenched teeth, “But I’m almost done with the lower deck.”

He went off to play with something else. Ninety minutes later a glorious — albeit, tilting — pirate ship emerged. I was so proud of myself and E was delighted. Sadly enough, the ship was demolished by rogue giraffes within a week’s time.

Now the LEGOs are much more complicated. For Hanukah E received a 636-piece Star Wars ship from my uncle. But we put it together in a few hours. Aside from a few wing pieces, I have been relegated to hunting and gathering for colors and sizes. I don’t care. I love LEGO instructions. There are no words. Numbered step-by-step instructions guide you piece by piece until (voila!) some massive apparatus of war machinery emerges. If only life could be that simple.

And then I had a revelation. (Granted, it came a few days later after a glass of rioja, but genius has to start somewhere.) Wouldn’t it be great if I could make my life into a LEGO set? I could get everything on track just by following straightforward instructions. Find a boyfriend. Oh, look there’s the boyfriend piece. Click — right into place. Health insurance? Look — that fits in right here. An active social life that doesn’t keep me up past my bedtime? That one is hard to find. But there it is…I was sitting on it! 

I know that my life would be a lot simpler if I could just put together a Stacey LEGO set instead of having to deal with my life. (Okay, is it me or is it just ridiculous that I have to pay taxes on alimony?) But I know that my life is good and it would be pointless for me to ignore the bumps in the road. I have a happy and healthy son, I like what I do for a living. Things aren’t perfect, but they wouldn’t be even if they were. (That honestly makes sense in my head.)

I’m a single mom with no love life. I worry about money. My metabolism ain’t what it used to be. These things can’t be solved with a turn of the page and a snapping of some brightly colored blocks together. Would that it could. However, I do know that there are steps I can take to ensure that the “Stacey set” is on the way to being complete — a masterpiece of my own creation.

I just have to start by picking up the pieces.


Author: Stacey Linden


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