Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Lifetime of memories!

When I play with my kids and their LEGO bricks, I’m taken back to when I’m a little boy, and my grandparents and I are visiting our cousins farm high in the spectacular mountains of the Dingle peninsula, jutting out in the Atlantic - at the south western corner of Ireland. On one of these visits, I was handed a small box containing a gift that was about to transform and define my childhood. “You can have these, because our Johnny has finished with them” I clearly remember my kind cousin saying.

I still remember peering inside curiously. I had never seen the like before. “LEGO” I heard her say. Right away I knew this was very special and I remember running the 2 miles downhill to our home family farm – all the while clutching this precious cargo. I will never ever forget that blue, grey and yellow truck, with steering, and doors that opened!

Over the next ten years this toy transfixed me and provided infinite hours of joy and amazement. These, along with additional bricks I acquired during my childhood were guarded meticulously. The inventing I did - with that relatively small number of bricks by today’s standards! Now I know this was formative in my spending many years in the engineering industry as an adult.

Three decades later, and my wife and I were told at our first baby scan – “it’s a boy". As I rejoiced at the prospect of being a dad, my inner child went “boy’s toys! Lego bricks!" Today, 3 children later, 2 boys and one girl, and they each have stacks of Lego. No Christmas is complete without a special big pack. It’s the gift I’m itching for them to get and I can’t wait for Santa to deliver! We’ve got all the range – boxes and boxes – its incredible how much. No School break is complete without a big Lego project! We design our own, sorry, ahem they design their own... Ok, I put my hands up – when it’s LEGO time, I’m a child just like them.

Now as a dad, I’m aghast at their imagination. Like when my boy was five and he put 2 ship hulls back to back to create a super-tanker – we spent Easter week working on that project! I love the colours that my daughter uses in her creations. When we revisit the farm back on the Dingle peninsula, they come away and build tractors and combine harvesters over the following days.

I love it. I love how it has evolved. I love the multitude of new shapes and designs. And crucially – what is so So SO special about Lego is that, in amongst all the cool modern advanced brick shapes, I can still find the exact same bricks that I played with decades ago. In that moment I am taken back to that kitchen table and I can hear those younger voices and see my family’s faces from that time.

Today Lego is providing me with a new sweep of memories. I will always treasure the memory of my eldest boy, when he was little, running to me clutching his box of bricks saying “daddy do you want to play?” Or the other morning, just as everybody poured out the door to school at 8.50am, and our youngest manages to get a Lego brick stuck up his nose! And today, my little girl coming with a Lego creation saying, “daddy I made this for you”. It blows my mind and melts my heart. I’m thrilled when I see the three of them play enthusiastically and laughing together - around a mountain of LEGO!

Our family share a recurring dream. It’s to visit LEGOLAND Windsor Resort – the LEGO theme park and LEGO themed hotel near London. My wife and I share this one. She is a big LEGO fan also. This is the family trip that really floats our boat and sparks our imagination. It’s been on the kids wish-list for a long time and the youngest is now old enough to enjoy it also. They’ve all finally got the stamina for the endless activities and amusements available there. We are all very excited that it might soon be the next chapter in our family LEGO story.

Not only has this toy defined and enriched my childhood, it now marks the most precious moments for me with my own children during their childhoods - and for our family. Thanks LEGO for the memories of a lifetime!

Tom Evans is a dad, hubby, writer, counsellor, and psychotherapist based in Midleton, Cork, Rep of Irl.