Freedom? Lessons from a Toddler and Legos

Freedom? Lessons from a Toddler and Legos

On the weekend, my family went to the mall. As families with young children do, we ended up taking a pitstop at the Lego Store.

Whoever markets some of these kid-oriented stores is genius. Once you have attracted the attention of a toddler, there is no force in the Universe that can act against them.

This Lego Shop was a veritable black hole.

Freedom? Lessons from a Toddler and Legos
Bright colors, toys for days: how can a child or an adult with a child-like heart resist?

“I’m not tempted.”

My daughter who is only two-years old makes a bee-line for the short tables with the buckets of legos. She dives in with both hands.

She’s making stuff. Mom is watching her. She’s safe.

Great! That means I’m free to browse.

I’m okay. I’m not easily tempted by Legos.

In fact, this is not the first time I’ve been in a Lego store.

When the Star Wars stuff came out for the first time, it was an easy test for me. I walked in the store. I walked out of the store.

The only thought I had was “an AT-AT would be cool on my office desk–but, not for over 100 dollars!’

Yep. I was immune to Lego toys. After all, I’m an adult. We don’t belong in that world.

We admire the cool-factor, understand the draw for children, but we are not par-takers of this world.

A caterpillar can’t crawl back into its cocoon after it has become a butterfly.

I’m a butterfly in a Lego store.

…or, so I thought.


The (Rocket) Dream House

Ever get a thought stuck in your head?

Not the normal kind of mental notes, like “I need to remember to finish that email when I get home”.

No, I mean, the evil thorn-in-your-side thoughts.

Well, I’ll tell you that this Lego store had one product on it’s shelf that won’t leave my mind:

The “Lego The Movie 2 Emmet’s Dream House/Rescue Rocket“. For the sake of simplicity in this article, I’ll call this the “Dream House“.

My daughter is busy playing with the legos behind me while I’m walking closer to the shelf.

There are bunch of these boxes of the Rocket Dream House.

I don’t understand why my feet won’t obey me. But, there I am getting closer to find out how much this toy costs.

What is wrong with me?

It’s bundle of legos that you use to build a replica of a house that appears in the The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part.

I never saw the movie! As of this article writing, I still haven’t seen the movie.

The Dream House is about $60-65. I know I can find it cheaper online (I ended up checking here for obvious reasons).

Then, because I’m kind of a cheapskate, I also look up whether someone has tried to design a digital version. I want to 3D print it instead (i.e., cheaper than this set of Legos).

Freedom? Lessons from a Toddler and Legos
I don’t want to buy it. Anyone have this as a 3D-printable file?

I’ve 3D printed many things. You can take a look here or here.

How hard could it be to make the Dream House into an STL or OBJ file (i.e., the digital file formats for 3D printing)?

Probably, not that hard. People have 3D-printed lego bricks. You can also take a look at Thingiverse for 3D print files for lego bricks.

Yet, I realized that I would save time and money if I simply paid for the box set. 3D printing can be a hassle.

But, what the heck am I doing?

I’m an adult!

Why am I drawn to this particular toy?

My 2-year old daughter is oblivious to her dad’s mental struggle. When it’s time to leave to get something to eat, we all walk out of the store without buying anything.

I’ve resisted the temptation to buy anything. I feel proud. I’m a good steward of my money.

But, I feel empty now.

I feel more dejected that I walked away from the Lego Store than my daughter did without getting any legos. After all, her mother can be quite convincing that ice cream is just around the corner.

I wanted the Dream House. My mind is still attached to this toy.

Here’s what I think happened.

I was a victim of my memory and experience.

A victim in my mind.

I’ll try and break it down.

I know upon reflection that I associate small houses, the literal structure, with a warm home.

A sanctuary where comfort and good-feelings reside; an escape.

Freedom? Lessons from a Toddler and Legos
A cozy-looking tiny home

You might be thinking that I’m describing a “safe space“. But, I’m not talking about fear of words, harassment, or a threatened self-identity.

I’m literally describing how I am drawn toward these places that look “comfortable”, “cozy” and “peaceful”.

This place might be where I can read a book and sip a cup of coffee. Do things I enjoy. And, this place may have four walls, some cute windows to look outside and good natural, warm light. It has a roof to keep the rain out.

The proof of this draw for me could be my Pinterest page. It’s littered with photos of tiny homes and places that I find cozy.

If it looks like a cozy, tiny warm-looking house.

I feel home.

The problem: this house can’t exist.

The ideal place for me doesn’t exist. I’m never going to live my life in a home that I see in my head. Even the tiny homes that actually real houses, can’t be where I live.

Why?

Freedom? Lessons from a Toddler and Legos
This would be great, huh?

Because, I envision this home moving where ever I am.

It’s a house that moves where I want to go. Another way to put is that I imagine a safe structural-place that goes with me.

And, yeah, sure a recreational vehicle (RV) would be close to this idea. I might even try and buy one when I’m retired and travel the country.

But, the point stands, the feeling of home draws me to tangible proxies of this vision. These proxies could be toy products, images, whatever, that look like a house that can go places.

Freedom? Lessons from a Toddler and Legos
The RV from the Spaceballs movie

A feeling of a home that can go places.

My feet are stuck firmly in place, while the rest of me is free to move.

Me (thinking of freedom)

Sci-fi vehicles, such as the Millennium Falcon (Star Wars) or the Firefly (Serenity), draw many of in because they represent this idea of “a home that goes places”.

Serenity spaceship

A home that moves.

Freedom? Lessons from a Toddler and Legos
Serenity spaceship (interior galley) | Firefly TV show

A place of comfort that goes where you go.

Toys let you experience freedom.

Even in myself, the adult, I was drawn to the Dream House because it evoked a sensation of “a home that moves”.

It’s a powerful feeling: the idea you can disappear safely into this zone.

So, that is what freedom is: A place you feel and are perfectly secure, but a place that goes with you.

Toys for a child, do this all the time. My two-year experienced something when she ran into the Lego store that I will rarely experience in my adulthood.

As I watched her play, nothing around her mattered. She was in that “zone”.

And, from my experience, her childhood is a gift that allows her to experience the world safely.

My joy was seeing her experience “freedom”.

My encounter with the Lego Dream House was my rare glimpse into this idea that freedom can be reflected in toys. This even helps me make sense of why I’m fascinated by painting miniatures.

They are toys that reflect my adulthood version of child’s play. Not childish, but childlike.

Summary: What I Learned.

In truth, the toys are just pale shadows of the real things they represent. Legos are small parts you put together to make other things.

In reality, on the other hand, things are already there. A house is a house. A car is a car.

But, the process of life breaks them, destroys them slowly or quickly. Either way, you can be sure that nothing lasts forever as it is.

Life is the opposite of a child’s building-up of Lego bricks. In the natural world, life increases entropy This is the 2nd law of thermodynamics that states: all things in tend toward disorder, chaos.

Where is freedom in all this? Why does this concept exist?

Easy.

Freedom is my 2-year daughter running after ice cream. It is also knowing that I have the choice everyday to live in the Dream House that I already carry in my head and heart.

It goes where I go.

Going places!

People say that “home is where the heart is.”

Where is home for you? What does home look like?

Let me know with a comment below.

Thank you for reading!

I have more thoughts and editorial articles (here).

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