Yesterday I bought some Duplo blocks for my kid. She’s been a big fan of her MegaBloks forever but there’s only so much you can do with them and she’s got the kind of brain that likes putting things together, organizing stuff, and doing puzzles (at least lately). A year ago, I would never have thought to blog about buying Duplo blocks or that doing so would be such a freaking event for me.
The first hurdle I faced was that it’s really frikkin hard to find Duplo blocks that aren’t branded by something Disney, all pink, or full of very specific parts that can pretty much only be used to make a helicopter or a cup cake shop or whatever. I looked really hard for a set that included mostly just the basic blocks. You know, like us old-school people had as a kid. I guess on that note, if I could imagine I’d built and airplane or a boat out of the basic cubes, kids these days can find alternate uses for propellers and cupcakes. Anyway, I found a set that fit my bill. It did have a rabbit, a turtle, some flowers, and a couple of “people” figures in the set, but that’s way better than goddamned princesses or Mickey Mouse.
The other hurdle was that Duplo blocks are ridiculously expensive! Seriously, they’re like fifty cents per block! I’ll be making sure none of those end up in the vacuum cleaner. I actually considered skipping the Duplo and going straight for Lego, which has an option of all “old school” blocks at a much more reasonable “per block” price. But as smart as my kid is, I’ve still seen her stick small things in her mouth that shouldn’t go there, and I’d just finished a BLS/CPR course and the idea of choking toddlers was fresh in my brain from that.
So last night we sat down on the floor to play with the new blocks. In comparison to her old MegaBloks, Duplo blocks require a lot more dexterity and strength to assemble and they can come apart easier if assembled precariously. My daughter’s chosen “first project” was to take all the four-bump blocks and line them up in a big wand of sorts. Ambitious for an excitable 19-month old.
Actually, she’s not easily frustrated in general, which is what drives her to do things like climb the playground equipment in the “big kid park”. I think it might have something to do with nobody telling her she can’t do it. I’ve got to remind myself, “Self, please don’t turn into the kind of parent that constantly tells his kid what she can’t do.”
Counting the number of four-bump blocks in the set, I determined early on that she probably wasn’t going to achieve her apparent goal, but I just let her try. Sometimes she’d push too hard trying to assemble them and cause them to collapse and separate further down the line of bricks. Sometimes she’d move too fast and the bricks would come apart. After any given setback in her work, we both said “uh oh” and giggled. Eventually, that evolved into her alternating between intense concentration while trying to fit it all together and screams of laughter when things fell apart. She seemed to find glee in the failures and was belly-laughing harder than I’ve seen her laugh in a long time. How many people do that?
I hope she keeps that up. Not sure how it’ll happen, given that both her parents tend to react in a manner that’s the polar opposite of glee. Usually, when I’m concentrating so hard on something and faced with so many frustrations, I break into a massive string of obscenities and quiver and grimace in a manner that would make Gary Busey concerned for my mental health. Maybe should take a lesson from the kid, huh?