Being 40+ years older than my daughter causes certain misunderstandings. Take Lego™, for example.
She asked for, and received, several sets of Lego Friends™ for her birthday a few months ago. I was delighted. Lego™ was a fixture of my 1960s childhood, and I approve of its active, creative, re-usable nature. Little did I know that for her, once a Lego™ set was put together, it became a finished product, available to support lots of pretend play. It did not occur to her that Lego™ exists to be dismantled and built anew. When I not only shovelled her creations into a box in preparation for visitors, but then offered the pieces to the visitors to play with (boys, no less), she let her annoyance be known. Loudly. I thought she was just objecting to tidying up and to sharing.
It’s only now, months later, that I realise we have a clash of worldviews.
Lego™, Then and Now
In my day, there was no boys’ Lego™ or girls’ Lego™. In my day, there were no kits for helicopters, cafes, farms, action figures or camper vans. I can count on two hands the types of pieces available to me and my brother. Apart from arguing over who got the last four-spot, we didn’t know we were missing anything. The whole point of Lego™ was to build stuff, dismantle it, and start again, over and over again.
From my daughter’s point of view, my tidying up the Lego™ and sharing it with friends was a heartless, careless and quite possibly malicious act. It reinforced her notion that adults, and I in particular, have no respect for her desires, no understanding of what is important. It annihilated her careful constructions and ruined her opportunities to play house (or café or camper van) forever more. Never mind that I have said we can re-construct them, and that construction is the whole point of Lego™; for her, they have been destroyed and will never be the same again.
I’ve been disappointed that she hasn’t brought out the Lego™ for a few months. It’s one of the few toys I enjoy playing with. Now that I understand our Lego™ generation gap, I will empathise with my daughter over my ill-considered destruction of her café, campervan and ice cream stand.
I will encourage her to reconstruct them with me. I’ll even reconstruct them myself if necessary, and if she’s lucky I might even play house (or café or camper van) with her (once or twice, max).
Then I’ll attempt, again, to teach her the pleasures of destruction and reconstruction. Because the old way is the right way, right??
The question is, can I let go of my desire for her to understand Lego’s™ purpose my way? If I succeed, I might even invite her to show me what Lego™ in the early 21st century is all about. I suspect I haven’t quite grasped it yet.
Do you experience generation gaps?
You may not be wondering why I have been silent for a few weeks – it has been Christmas, after all – but I’m going to tell you anyway. Not only was it Christmas (the hype of which I ignore as much as the mother of a 9-year-old ethically can), it was the winter solstice, the darkest time of the year. And here at 57° North latitude, it gets very dark indeed. Every year at this time, I watch myself slow down. My body and mind inform me in no uncertain terms that ‘tis the season to hibernate. In the glorious freedom of being no longer young, I no longer resist. So I’ve been allowing myself to hibernate.
It’s also the time of year to let go of the old and welcome the new. I’ve been ‘spring cleaning,’ physically and metaphorically. It feels great (or it will once I finish).
I’ve also been working on applications for funding, so that I can carry on doing the work that makes my heart sing. Wish me luck!