Good Sunday morning to you Bunnies!
It’s been a super busy week, with lots of little bunny activities. The littlest bunny passed his swimming course and started a new class in creative movement at a local dance school. Good stuff all round. His big brother has finally found a genre of books he likes to read so he keeps disappearing into his room to read which makes Mama Bunny do the dance of joy! He’s always been a good reader, but not keen on reading books. Now he is finally enjoying reading and it’s lovely knowing how wonderful it will be for him to have all those book worlds to visit!! He contrasts the quiet reading with bouts of recorder practice that drive us all a little batty, but he’s practising and getting better so we can’t complain.
So I’d mentioned that we recently took the little bunnies to see The Lego Movie. I can say without hesitation that we loved every minute of it. From the opening credits, to the incredibly catchy (yes, almost to the point of annoyance) song “Everything is Awesome!”, to the brilliant live action with Dad and son and the tube of crazy glue. The animation completely embraced the limitations of Lego brick physics (perfectly illustrated by the hero, Emmet’s jumping jacks), giving the film the feeling that it was made with a keen insight into a Lego-playing child’s imagination. The dialog was brilliant, Morgan Freeman and Liam Neeson were laugh-out-loud perfect as Vitruvius and GoodCop/BadCop. In fact, I couldn’t find a single piece of casting I’d have done differently.
What fascinated me the most though, was the message; but before we go there, let me digress a little.
Lego has been part of this Bunny’s life since birth. The first complete set I can remember was my big brother’s Moon Landing set.
First issued in the U.S. In 1975, to me it was untouchable. Literally. Sitting on my brother’s chest of drawers, I was not allowed to play with it. Detachable lunar escape module, rover, pre-mini figure astronauts with brick-based helmets that could be removed and replaced with large yellow heads. It was hallowed in the way that older siblings toys often were. But it was also a set. Made according to instructions and not to be changed in any way. It was to be played with exactly as intended. And not by me!
I grew up with a healthy respect for Lego sets. Mixed brick sets were for using your imagination to go anywhere. Sets were for playing pretend. Sets were not to be modified.
Fast forward a ‘few’ years and here I am with my eldest little bunny, now three, and his first non-duplo lego set: a little ambulance. We built it together and played with it, putting the little minifigure ambulance attendants and their stretcher in the back and driving it around. It wasn’t long though before he wanted to take it apart. Whaaaaaaatttt? No way, José. It’s a SET! I protected that little ambulance, telling my little guy that he could make other things with his mixed brick set, but he couldn’t take apart his ambulance! Over the next few years, many more sets arrived in the bunny home and eventually another little bunny boy arrived as well and through it all, sets were still preserved like holy objects.
Then one day I sat watching my older son take apart one of his ‘set’ vehicles. Ileaned in to stop him, when I realized what he was actually doing. “Look, Mummy! It’s a moose!” And so it was. He had removed key pieces from his set, to build a tiny and beautifully abstract moose. It was then I realized that he and I had silently been waging a tiny war between one kind of imagination and another: pretend play and creating. It was like an epiphany. What was the true spirit of Lego? I couldn’t help but think that it was giving your imagination free reign. Follow the instructions and then let your imagination fly, modifying to make your own creations,
That little moose changed things a bit. From that point on, sets were not protected as they had been and we were treated to all sorts of wonderful modifications: tiny laptop, vacuum, phone, TV characters, bands and a smorgasbord of fabulous vehicles, buildings and weapons.
The imagination was truly king again, and as hard as it was for me to let go of the “Type-A” beautiful organization of all those lovely sets, I had realized that I was holding back true imagination.
Then came the day I sat in a darkened theatre on a winters afternoon and watched as that same battle played out on the screen in front of me. It was as if Lego was pointing out its own biggest misstep. Fabulous sets including movie and pop culture tie ins were great for business, but did they reflect the spirit of the “Master Builder”? While superglueing sets together was tantamount to a criminal offence in our house, there was a time when we were as bad as Lord Business, acting as ‘set cops’, policing the policy of the complete and unchanged set. It was absolutely fascinating to me that The Lego Movie was basically telling children old and young to think outside the box when the box is what is keeping their business alive. Perhaps what they are actually advocating is what this bunny realised when I saw that little moose: it’s okay to follow the instructions, as long as you are also free to go beyond them. So cap the ‘kragle’, and take a deep cleansing breath as those lovely sets that you may have spent days helping your bunny to build (painstakingly following instructions as you went), are “reassigned” into the realms of the imagination!
I’m happy to say that the spirit of the master builder is alive and well in this bunny burrow, evidenced by the minefield of Lego all over the living room floor!