My son Ben doesn’t like Lego. I used to be quite upset about it.
I wasn’t the most confident new mother when my son was small. Who was? I learnt from parenting books and middle-class stay-at-home mothers that Lego toys were brilliant, and “all boys love Lego,” so I bought him some Lego bricks with joy and played with him.
Apparently building Lego toys would boost a child’s maths skill, improve his spatial awareness, and his understanding of fractions and division. Playing with Lego could also foster a child’s physics and engineering skills. Playing with Lego could develop a child’s fine motor skills, high-level problem solving skills, planning and organising skills. Of course I wanted my son to be a scientist, an accountant, an engineer, a heart surgeon, and the youngest Mensa member ever. (Mensa: The High IQ Society) I wanted my son to play Lego.
I bought my son a Lego set, Lego book and some cute Lego model for Christmas, however, he did not open the Lego set for 3 years. He told me he could not see the point of building Lego toys. He had no passion for Lego.
I do compare parenting. I visited a friend whose lounge was turned into a Legoland. They built sophisticated inverted roller-coaster, with motorised chain lifts and working gates. They also built suspension bridges and Technic jet planes. On one visit, we were warned not to knock over their roller-coaster that had taken them 5 days to build.
A boy with no passion for Lego
My friend has excellent organisational skill. She organises their Lego pieces in multi-compartment storage box with removable dividers. Their Lego pieces are sorted by parts, then sorted by colour.
I remember I used to feel a bit embarrassed that my son didn’t like Lego, and he never built a Lego toy that promises an engineering career. “It’s a shame that Ben doesn’t like Lego.” I was very apologetic to my super-mum friend. I was fully in awe of their Lego suspension bridge.
My super-mum friend was very kind and she lent me two huge boxes of Lego mega blocks. Her kids had moved on to smaller Lego bricks and she let Ben played with their chunky blocks. We built a tower, but it still did not inspire Ben to build a Lego Eiffel Tower. He resumed drawing his scary monsters.
You may say that all kids are different and it’s absolutely fine for a boy not to love Lego. However, as a new mother, I did not have the confidence or wisdom to deal with his difference, therefore I felt a sense of disappointment and I was keen for Ben to fit into the pigeonhole for boys, so that he could have an easier life.
Over the years, I have learnt to embrace Ben’s differences and see a more beautiful world through his eyes. Last week, 12-year-old Ben wrote a wonderful blog post about books. He revealed his views on a good book:
I HATE books which start something like this-
“They’ve gone now, and I’m alone at last. I have the whole night ahead of me, and I won’t waste a single moment of it.” (From Private Peaceful, which I read in my English class).
Ok, who’s alone? Whose “they?” Why can’t he waste a single moment of the night? Where is he? How did he get there? WHO IS HE?
THIS is how you open a book-
“Mr and Mrs Dursely, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.” (From the first Harry Potter book).
A boy in his black and white world
Ben’s world is black and white. He either loves or hates something. He told me he hates stories written by Michael Morpurgo, the third Children’s Laureate. He hates them even more because he was forced to read the stories in both Year 6 and Year 7 in school. Two years ago, he was given a gift box of Michael Morpurgo’s books by his grandmother, but he did not read them.
What do you feel when your child doesn’t love Lego toys, and he doesn’t love reading the books set by his teacher? What do you do if your child doesn’t read popular children-friendly books?
Some parents manage to train and encourage their children to read certain literature or ‘quality’ books with a moral lesson, but I’ve never been successful in influencing Ben in his choice of reading. To expand his scope in reading, I need to make a great effort. Luckily, today in Winchester, he found a new book that grabbed his attention – House of Secrets by Chris Columbus and Ned Vizzini.
Ben may not love Lego, Michael Morpurgo with his animal stories, football, and sandy beaches, but he has enormous joy and energy in his wildly imaginative world. He has passion for his favourite science fiction, Doctor Who series, and all the Kings and Queens of England. His unique quality has brought joy into my life. He shatters my limited views on parenting. Everyday, I learn to view his world beyond the pigeonholes.
This post was inspired by Blog Exercises: The Outsider by Lorelle VanFossen. You can find more Blog Exercises on Lorelle on WordPress. This is a year-long challenge to help you flex your blogging muscles.
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Children do have a way of shattering their parents’ limited views. They will be what they will be. My three daughters are very different from one another. And even though they all played with dolls, they grew up to be an engineer, a lawyer and an actuary. Who would have guessed?
It takes an open mind to nurture all different characters.
Some parents want to ‘mould’ each child their own way, based on parents’ own desires, and it’s quite common in many oriental families. Some children thrive under pressures, and they are obedient and ‘filial’ as the culture dictates it, but some are left with permanent scars.
Working with children, I often need to stay back and remind myself that each kid is different, and I need to be open minded, to see each one’s needs are different, to see the beauty in every child.
Thank you for your feedback.
We have grown up in a world full of stereotypes. But the world is a lot bigger, full of much wider range of choices, and definitely more colourful than ever before. In many ways, it easier now – even considered more advantageous – to be different, and stand apart from the rest of the crowd.
Thank you for your feedback. Indeed. I’ve learnt to be more aware of stereotypes, and to be more open. A few weeks ago, I bought a cute beautiful soft toy for my nephew, but later I suddenly wondered if the colour — between dark pink and purple — would be ‘appropriate’. I checked with a few people if a boy would love ‘pink’. What’s on my mind? Why was I worried about boy with pink? Luckily my nephew loves the pinky toy.
In this culture, it’s certainly easier to be different, to pursue your own dreams.
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My eldest reads voraciously and still has all of his Lego (he’s 23). My youngest won’t read if he can possibly avoid it and quickly tired of Lego. Both boys are doing fine.
We are all different 🙂
I had the fortune to have met these two fine young men and they’re both lovely and funny!
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I had lego as a child but I’m not sure it ever helped my understanding of fractions and division, and I’ve never developed physics and engineering skills. So if I can play with lego and not become an engineer, Ben could still become an engineer without playing with lego!
And our lego was just mixed up in an old biscuit tin; it wasn’t sorted into size and colour.
You never know — perhaps Lego developed your fine motor skills as you’re known for your great DIY skills, doing washing-up, fixing washing machines, and bell ringing.
We have a huge box of fully constructed Lego (aeroplanes, constructions equipment, helicopter) in the garage — the man in the house tried to pass them down to the next generation, but his son didn’t quite appreciate them.