This weekend LP was building Legos with wild abandon. He was using the G-man’s old instruction books from the 80s to make trucks and ships. He was following along with some of his own Lego books that have more clear instructions. He was also making helicopters, spaceships, and castles all using his imagination; no instructions required.
When LP asks me to “play Legos” with him, what he is really asking me to do is to search for more and more little pieces in our massive Lego boxes. It’s tedious and give me a headache after about 15 pieces. But I do it for a while, and then tell him I’m taking a “Lego-searching break” and simply hang out in the playroom with him while he does some searching for “four-bump” and “six-bump” pieces. It’s amazing to watch him build; to watch him visualize an idea in his mind and then find the right pieces to make it happen. He has gone from wanting all the colors to match perfectly to accepting that functionality supersedes color, especially when he is trying to make several things at once using some of the same pieces. He is proud of his creations and will play with them for a while, but soon enough he is back to building again.
LP’s Lego building has been a milestone for him, but it has also been a milestone for me. A couple of years ago, I might have missed this. Sure, I would have been home enough to see him play Legos. But I would have tried to get more done while he was busy. I would have written more, cleaned more, checked more social media. I might have even read more and made a dent in the stack of library books that is currently sitting by my bed. But then one day, out of the blue, I would have realized that he was building his own creations and I would have had no idea when that happened.
In the past few years, as I cemented some realizations about my essential values and developed systems that allow me to maintain a balanced life one of my biggest personal changes has been the way I spend time with my kids. Instead of multi-tasking, I’m working on being present. Instead of grabbing moments with the kids in between the rest of my life, I’m making time to be with my kids as much of a priority as a meeting at work or as a doctor’s appointment. I did this mostly to make myself happier. I do truly enjoy them, even when searching for Lego’s gives me a headache. This week I was reminded of why making this commitment to simply being present with my kids makes me happy. I didn’t miss this. I didn’t miss LP figuring out how to build his own creations. I didn’t wake up one morning and realize that a piece of his childhood was gone and he was moving onto the next milestone, all without me around. No, I was there. I saw it happening, and I reveled in it. I’m so glad I didn’t miss it.