I often catch myself "cleaning" by just throwing away all the little bits and pieces I find on the floor - marker lids, marbles, puzzle pieces...whatever the boys happened to gloss over - and nothing ever seems to be missed. The boys make substitutions without drama and new ideas often spring up from not being able to do something the way it was supposed to be done.
Even when we do have all the right pieces (a miracle) we often go out of our way to mess things up for ourselves. We might really enjoy playing a game by the rules one day and then the very next day use half the cards for throwing stars and the game pieces to gang up on some bad guys.
I've always been more than fine with this as I believe not doing things the way you're supposed to is a great way to foster creativity (plus, you know, I'm kinda lazy). It's why I prefer random objects over carefully thought out toys and very rarely replace batteries (once they die I'm like, "Oh, good, now you can figure out how to play with this thing..."). Give my boys some fabric, a cardboard box and a stick and they're pretty much good to go.
(a gameshow set Liam built...they're playing with friends right now!)
Several months ago we were visiting my sister's family when her husband brought out one of the Lego sets he had as a kid (his mom saved them all). The fact that they still had ALL the pieces nearly gave me chest pain. I mean, I really didn't understand how that was even possible! But after watching Liam and his uncle sit together for over an hour, reading instructions, working together and building this amazing Lego firetruck, I was starting to see that it might be a good thing to figure out.
It's a good thing, too. Because a few days later Liam started a Lego building class at his tutorial and decided he was ready to get into Legos. His reasoning? A lot of kids are into Mario like he is but even more kids are into Legos. If he was into Legos and Mario, he would probably have something in common with almost every kid in the world.
Plus, you know, Legos are awesome.
So we bit the bullet and bought a couple sets for Christmas. Finn opened one up on Christmas Eve to get out the guys (his favorite part) and then we sort of lost track of the box until yesterday when we decided that putting it together would be the best way to spend a cold and stormy afternoon.
I found some of the pieces were still in the bags (phew!) while others were loose in the box or on the floor in the boys' room or under the Christmas tree (we almost got it taken down...). My heart sank. We'd never even put it together once and already I knew we'd be missing pieces. Liam assured me that we could just wing it if that happened so we forged ahead undeterred.
I couldn't have been more proud if we had come up with the idea all on our own. Which is exactly what Finn and I did today while Liam was at school. We built a Ninjago-ish palace sort of thing that looked a tiny bit like the one on the box and made a perfectly fine place for our good guys to hang out.
I'm hooked. Instructions and all the pieces or not - Legos are my new favorite toy. (I may change my tune once I step on one with a bare foot...check back with me in the Spring!)