Today’s post is based on the Blogging 101, Day 11 assignment, which directs me to got to the front page of WordPress’ Daily Post and work with today’s daily prompt or select another one. For today, June 22, the prompt is called “Toy Story,” and the topic asks that I describe my favorite toy growing up as a child. If I didn’t like this prompt, I could choose another, but I decide to stick with this one because I’ve been thinking about what I want to do with two sets of Lego “Heartland High” kits that I purchased several months ago. The purchase was made with the intent of using the figures in photographs to be used with my professional education web site blog, Teacher Talk.
Why Legos? 1) Because, at the time, I couldn’t draw a stick figure that looked vaguely human–before I decided to take drawing lessons to help make my ideas come to life. 2) I loved the precursors of Legos as a child, and continue to love the toy to this day. You could say that I’ve been playing with construction-type building blocks for about 60 years now. But why I fell in love with the toy may have a lot to do with who gave them to me for my fifth birthday–or rather, whose belief it was that I would love the toy. The toy came from my parents, but it was my father who picked it out and thought I would really love it. And he was right. In fact, he was so right that I would make up excuses to stay home to play with them instead of going to school. Because I loved school, you can imagine how much I enjoyed playing with Lego-like blocks. To choose anything over school was a big deal. And, of course, I wasn’t able to get away with the excuse of being sick or having half a day off, or Heaven only knows what other excuses I found to play with these blocks. And my “Ginny
dolls, who were far too large to fit into the structures I built, but I was a child and children suspend reality in order for their imaginations to “make things fit.”
That I received building blocks as a five-year-old in 1955 was unusual. I was supposed to play with the dolls, dressing them, “sewing” clothes for them, etc. As a little girl, I was not supposed to be interested in “boy toys.” Back then, all construction toys were aimed at boys, and very few girls were surprised to receive such toys from their parents. I was never sure why my father thought I would enjoy the construction set, and I never remembered in later years to ask him. Now he has been gone for more than twenty-five years, and my mother does not even remember that I received the toy at all. But I remember, and somehow, when I purchased Legos for my own children and played with them as they built their little fantasy worlds, my father would always come to mind. Even though he lived more than 100 miles away from my children, he was somehow there in spirit building things along with us.
It may be that my memory of both the Legos and my father prompted this little story because yesterday was Father’s Day, and my father is lying in a grave some 2,000 miles from me. The Lego sets I purchased continue to remind him of me.
But the purpose for which the Legos were purchased is no longer a priority. For one thing, I have not been posting to Teacher Talk for a month, and hadn’t done so for quite a long while before then. For another thing, I simply have not had the energy–or haven’t made the time–to actually construct the school environment with the blocks and people parts and desks, etc. The there’s the issue of space. We live in a condo that is large enough for me to have the space to construct, but that has somehow become filled up with other “toys” that I’m playing with as I approach official retirement. My new toys consist of drawing pads, various pencils, tubes of oil paints and assorted canvases and easels and…basically things that I thought would take up less space than a Lego school. But that is just another thing I was wrong about.
Now, I am reluctant to give away the Legos sets. All the memories of my father that I have are locked in a storage unit in Glendale, California, and I now live on a tiny island in the eastern-most part of the Caribbean Sea. In many ways, the blocks–even though brand new–are the only part of my father that are within my reach.
At some point during the next year or so, I will be traveling to Glendale to reclaim my background–especially those items I have there that were love so much by my father and all the photos that I have of him. Although the storage unit is crammed with things, I have no interest in anything except the memorabilia associated with my father. So, until I retrieve those items and sell or donate the rest of the contents of the storage unit, I will hold on to the Lego sets I have, probably figure out a way to make time to assemble the school and its characters, and finally let go of them when I once again am reunited with my father’s photos and books…