My Lego Father’s Day
My definition of Fatherhood: a process of forgiving your father’s mistakes while actively making your own.
Growing up I’d describe my main paternal complaint as a quintessentially middle class one. After marrying and starting a family young, like they did back in those olden days, my dad threw himself into the race of provider. What that meant was lots of traveling, lots of not being around. But our houses got nicer and by high school I was the perfect cliche of suburban rebellion.
Rebelling against the comfort my dad made big sacrifices to provide me didn’t stop me from enjoying the material fruits of his labor, like Legos for birthdays and Christmas. I spent long hours pawing through my Lego pile, free-style building from deconstructed Lego sets.
Last summer I passed the Lego torch to my boys. That’s not altogether accurate. Last summer I set a brush fire in which I am still delightfully consumed, but there were some bumps along the way.
After my mom reunited me with what remained of my Lego pile, I spent long nights in my garage after we put down the kids, building. I built one particular space ship that I actually restricted my kids from playing with because the engines kept falling off. Frustrated, I finally used glue.
I also built an elaborate space station and a multitude of vehicles and luckily realized I was domineering my kids’ Lego experience before watching The Lego Movie, where my exact behavior was mirrored in parody by the always brilliant Will Ferrell as President Business. And though I’m mostly reformed, I admit I still have to catch myself when I see my youngest mixing up the parts of the mini-figures.
If you haven’t watched The Lego Movie you should. The message I got from the movie is this: don’t stifle young creativity by being an overbearing control freak incapable of thinking beyond the limits of the instructions.
Of course that’s just my interpretation. At Fox News they see things a little differently:
To be fair, I do think what we expose our kids to has profound impacts on their development. For me, one of those exposures was The Never Ending Story, described in this post as a movie with a particularly traumatizing scene where a horse dies because he’s too sad. Thank goodness the Baby Boomer generation developed pharmaceutical drugs to deal with the resulting generational depression.
Simply being present as a parent isn’t easy, especially with today’s ubiquitous devices and the variety of distractions they offer. If I don’t police myself then I run the risk of repeating the absences that upset me as a kid growing up with a dad who seemed to travel more than he was home.
My dad is a great dad and he did what he had to do to provide for his family. I hope as my kids get older they will be able to say the same about me.