I’m a big fan of LEGO. When my sons were young the whole house was filled with it, and my grandchildren have refilled the house again. I can’t walk anywhere inside without a small piece of plastic eventually sticking in my foot. Despite this, and the endless searches I do for lost specialized pieces the size of a fruit fly on behalf of wailing children, not to mention the unholy alliance between LEGO and every money-making kids’ movie ever produced, I still like Lego. I admit I even like the LEGO movie, which is not only funny, but takes a stab at promoting the idea of using Lego creatively instead of just replicating Batman’s helicopter, or, as above, a holiday reindeer (or moose?) and calling it a day.
I had a LEGO-themed road trip the other day, but there were more than plastic pieces getting connected. I was at McNeely Elementary School, and after chatting with the staff at lunch, Principal Patrick Von Hahn and I were walking in the halls. Suddenly a little boy came hurtling out of one of the classrooms, grabbed onto Patrick’s hand and boldly announced he wasn’t going back there. Patrick seemed completely unruffled by this, and he just kept strolling along hand in hand with Samuel while he told us his story. It was a long one, so here’s the executive summary. Seems that Samuel had been accused by his classmates of pilfering some classroom LEGO, when in truth he’d just taken one thing apart to build something else.
In truth, taking apart other people’s LEGO creations can be a bit dicey if they’re not ready to say goodbye to them, but Samuel seemed oblivious to that. His upset was all about the idea that someone had accused him of stealing. At the same time, he was carrying a small case with a handle, which I have to say, looked a little umm . . . suspect.
Samuel made a stop at his brother’s class to tell him about the false accusations and how he was never going back to class. His brother seemed a lot less outraged about the whole thing than Samuel was. We then went by the music room, and Samuel was suddenly all about the guitars. He handed his mysterious kid-size attaché case to me and ran over and started joyfully strumming them.
I guess that was some sort of music therapy for him, because by the time we left the guitars, he seemed to have forgotten the whole LEGO debacle. As if by magic, his teacher suddenly appeared, greeted him like a long-lost friend. and said, “Let’s go back to class, OK?”
He happily took her hand, retrieved his attaché case from me and off they went without a backward glance.
These two LEGO guys on the right might be debating questions such as “Why wasn’t Samuel’s brother equally outraged?”, or “What exactly was in that case he was carrying around?”
The answers to those questions don’t really matter. In the end Samuel kept his dignity, felt heard and was given a way back. This was done with such artistry and kindness that the lesson itself was unspoken. At the same time it speaks volumes about the daily care and sensitivity used to help school children learn how to navigate that tricky world of being with others.
On that note, Happy Holidays, and I’ll be back on the road in January.