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Saturday, June 04, 2005

Tell Your Kids the Truth about Lego®

I think that it is about time that we tell the children of the world the horrible truth: Lego is without a doubt the world’s worst toy and has diminished the self-esteem of several generations of American children. I mention this play item because I was recently introduced to a candy that looks like miniature Lego. The candy tastes like ass and I still can’t make any discernible object out of the blocks which fit together by pegs and holes.

When I was growing up one of my friends had a huge collection of these toys that are supposed to inspire creativity and inventiveness in children. On the box for the product there was a happy Swedish kid who was several years younger than I was at the time of my Lego career. This brainiac kid was proudly holding up a perfect replica of a helicopter that he had fashioned from the plastic blocks.

I was never able to make the helicopter, or the castle, or the car, or any of the other things pictured in the directions. I would jerk around for ten minutes and have nothing more than a wall of bricks. I never learned about creativity, I learned about failure. I learned how to give up and stop trying. I learned that when you burned Lego it gives off a toxic smoke that you probably would be wise not to inhale.

I never knew any kid who could make a fucking thing out of Lego. I don’t think that it is even possible to make a helicopter out of tiny colored blocks. There is a scene in the movie Apollo 13 where the chief NASA engineer tells his subordinate engineers that they have to make an air filter out of a pile of stuff that duplicates the raw materials available to the astronauts in the crippled space capsule. Don’t quote me but I think the quote he gives them is, “Failure is not an option.” Even those pocket-protected MIT graduates couldn’t make a helicopter out of a box of Lego’s.

What I learned from Lego is that failure is almost always an option. Failure is often the easiest option and the sooner you learn that as a kid the sooner you can ditch the silly blocks and go outside and dig foxholes in the city park across the street from your house. I probably never spent more than 15 minutes messing with that annoying excuse for a toy. I don’t know if this brands me as a quitter or shows an innate ability to quickly spot a dead end and move on. Explorers spent less time in their futile attempts to discover the Northwest Passage than kids have wasted trying to build a helicopter.

If your kids want to play baseball you don’t hand them some lumber and tanned cow hides and ask them to make their own bats, balls, and gloves. If your kids want a helicopter then buy them a damn helicopter and stop torturing them with the false hope that they can build one from scratch.

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