Releasing the Inner Nerd

John Buckley,

One of my great loves as a small boy (and even as a bigger boy) was Lego. It needs no introduction created from an original patent dating from the 1950’s but it is actually older than that probably really dating to somewhere round 1930. This small Danish industrial hero is loved by junior builders everywhere and cursed by parents who step on the stray bricks in the middle of the night. For some reason, feet are the great detectors of stray bricks as well as that last shard of broken glass.

Dads who have daughters probably wonder sometimes how they might end up connecting with the small Miss in their lives and I can tell you from personal experience Lego can be one of the keys to unlocking what is going on your little girl’s mind. The relationship with Lego has over the last three years or so and progressed from, her watching me build something, her helping build something, to now me just needing to be in the same room, while watching and occasionally offering advice.  In the course of this progression, I have discovered what makes my daughter tick. Instructions matter, colours matter, doing things in the right order matters, opening only the packet needed at that moment matters.

Lego has allowed me to discover that order matters in my daughter’s world and following instructions. But, those instructions (the books are great) have also taught her to read a perspective drawing, sort parts, gather the materials and do what the designer has specified.  I have an admitted sadness that there is not some desire to make something else, or alter the plans or “just build a rocket” or a submarine. That will probably come or maybe not, order and instruction may remain paramount. There has been some criticism of Lego for having pursued “gender based roles” in their toys. My daughter clearly identifies that some the packages are aimed at boys some at girls. Who cares, my daughter is doing sophisticated retail shop fit-out projects and organising helicopter rescues of animals instead of the next phase of Star Wars or building a police station.

One of the recent birthday presents is a “Minecraft’ themed Lego kit, next week for that I hope. That is much less gender specific (if that really matters).

What does this all mean? It means if you struggled with her fascination with dolls, My Little Pony and the coloured pencils that there is still time in the play space for you and your little girl.

But, by way of inspiration, last week she announced “dad, we need to build a computer” I am sure mine and her interpretations of that will differ but, that is part of the journey. And, will allow dad to release more of the inner nerd.