Saturday, December 24, 2011

First Day, Legos, Banana Fanna Fo...

I've been working on this rather lengthy, emotional-for-me to write post. I finally realized that there is no way I'm going to publish such heaviness until after the holidays. So, instead, I give you assorted musings from the Wyse Household for your reading distraction.

I baked cinnamon rolls for this morning. Americans call it Christmas Eve, but today is considered the First Day of Christmas in Germany. There are three days of Christmas (the 24th, 25th, and 26th). The 24th in Germany still has some similarities to the 24th in the US; stores are open early in the day, everyone runs around doing their last minute Christmas shopping.

Speaking of shopping, I, alone, went out shopping in the craziness on the 23rd. I decided it is easier to shop in holiday craziness than it is to shop on a normal day with a preschooler and toddler. Nonetheless, I'm grateful I didn't have to do both at the same time.

We're going sledding this afternoon.

Santa (or the Christkind or the Weihnachtsman) is bringing Noah 'little' legos for Christmas. I'm not sure if the duplos are cramping his style or if he just wants to be cool like his friends, but he is asking for them. I see many, many years of legos in our future. But before the Lego Madness begins, I have been reflecting a little bit on why *I* didn't play too much with legos as a child. I think this is a fair question to ask a woman who grew up building and making all sorts of things and later studied and practiced architecture. NPR recently reported on the topic of girls and legos. You can see some of their report here.

Here's my female perspective on playing with legos:

1. They're generally ugly. Making them pink or purple doesn't change the overall poor portions of most individual pieces, or the less-than-elegant nobs that 'grace' their topsides. The 1x1x6 piece is clearly the most graceful, but it's woefully lacking in most legos sets.

2. Too many specific pieces. One year I asked for a 'house' lego set. I got it. But it came with pre-designed mullion windows and roof pieces. Even at 6 years of age, I found windows with mullions OBNOXIOUS. Those pieces: roof pieces that looked like roofs and window pieces that looked like idealized windows: they didn't give me enough creative freedom. The green plate piece, which I was suppose to build upon? Too small for anything but the predesigned house. And those pieces told me what to do instead of letting me figure it out myself.

3. Too few buildable options after the suggested designs. Once I built the suggested 'house' there was nothing more to make. I needed, like, 6 more boxes of 'house' legos to have the design freedom I wanted. But by then, I was unimpressed. I didn't ask for legos anymore.

4. Lack of gravity. That's right, the ability of legos to stay together when upside down was disconcerting. Clearly, that's what made/makes them great for spaceship design and that's why they needed the ugly nobs. Well, whatever. They were still cheating gravity. I was not impressed.

5. Tactility. The NPR article talks about how girls like to role play with dolls and princesses. I was either too old (I was born in '76) or too disinterested to take part in princess play as a 4 year old. But I can relate to the dolls. A big part of role playing, I believe, is the tactility of it. The heavy, solidness of the doll, the lightness of a tulle skirt, sparkly shoes, shiny accessories. I'd say both soft and hard, light and heavy are important. The legos I know are very one dimensional in this manner. They are all light-weight, and all plastic-shine.  Sorry, but that's something that I still find not very interesting. And I'm not feeling appeased by the see-through plastic pieces. It's a start but not nearly far enough.

6. Hmmm...yeah, it might be hopeless to market to girls without fundamental reconceptualizing.

7. I definitely intend to do my own playing with legos over the next few years and see if I can come up with more concrete suggestions for improvement. Because I'm thinking the NPR reported changes won't bridge the gender gap.

I'd love to know if you played with legos and why or why not.

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Noah's been out of school for over a week now and he's getting more than a little restless. When he's not redecorating the tree and playing with the ornaments, he's singing.

But, oh, what was I thinking? I taught Noah that rhyming song... you know the one that goes "CALM CALM bo BALM banana fanna fo FALM me my mo MALM...CALM! (Or at least, that's my version.)

He's singing it nonstop with the '_uck' words.

I don't think he has any idea of *that* word or how to use it properly, he just knows it is majorly getting on my nerves. And I'm torn: explain to him that it's a bad word (I think he's old enough, don't you?) and hope he stops, but be forced to give him a consequence should he continue? (Sigh.) Or ignore it and hope it goes away before Grandma and Grandpa arrive?


Katie (Mama May I) said...

Girls and Legos! I played with them as a kiddo but mostly because my brother played with them and I wanted to do what he was doing. I liked them enough but certainly wasn't into them like he was. I did love to "drive" the Lego cars I'd make around our Lego town very much - but I also wanted nothing more than to be a bus driver when I was a child. Hmmm....

Happy, happy holidays over there! I hope the singing has calmed down a bit. ;)

Anonymous said...

I also like the 1x1x6 piece the best, how funny is that? I had lego, too - but never got the satisfaction as my boys get now. Duplo ist still a great hit at home, and the girls' constructions differ greatly from the boys' - but the boys are also playing lego (especially the firestation!), which the girls hardly do.

Shalini said...

Oh my goodness, I HATE LEGOS. I'm trying, though. I am.

Pregnantly Plump said...

I only played with legos with my cousins, and could only make ships. I didn't like them.
Little Elvis has lincoln logs, and I don't really like them.

Suniverse said...

When the girl was younger, we had many, many legos and duplos. They were generally pressed into service with her other toys, but seldom were front and center for anything.

Her friends who were boys played with the sets for years and years after she stopped.

Craftwhack said...

I love your mullions comment- so young and still you knew how nasty they are. I'm not a big legos fan, either. The appeal of them completely escapes me, but I love the fact that some people can be fanatical about them.