Before I became a mother, I was functionally unaware of the existence of certain basic things. Bulldozers, for example. They only existed for moments in the summer as I waited in a string of cars for the orange-vested Highway worker to give us the go-ahead to drive. Then those Bulldozers vanished quickly into oblivion. Oblivion, that is, until we saw road reconstruction after an earthquake in Costa Rica. My son was 1 1/2 . Then bulldozers became all the rage. We drew them, we read about them, made them out of pancake batter and chocolate cake. If we were lucky, he’d spend a few moments on his own in the sand playing with them. Once, I snuck a miniature bulldozer in the pocket of a bridesmaid dress for my little ring bearer.
Another previous unknown is the SR-71, colloquially referred to as the Blackbird (charmingly mispronounced as the Blat-bird). This reconnaissance military jet blasted into my consciousness after my son watched a preview for a video on Military Machines. A two minute clip and all of a sudden we were making Blackbirds out of cereal boxes and duct tape, dancing around singing a modified version of the Beetles’ song:
Blackbird flying in the dead of night
take those speedy wings up to the sky
all your life
you’ve been only waiting for this moment to arrive.
These phases burst onto the scene and I am forced to learn quickly to answer my son’s many questions. Because he is a fan of long and complex explanations where no detail is too small to mention, I am taking full advantage of the juvenile non-fiction section in our community’s library. If a picture is worth a thousand words and the average book has, say, forty pictures, I have just saved myself 40,000 words. That’s a significant savings. It goes right back into my patience bank. Boom.
Now, with son #2 on the scene and becoming more verbal and individual by the millisecond, Lego men are the new rage. Who knew they were so interesting? They elicit shrieks of delight and the ever-enthusiastic “GUYS!” when he finds them. These mini-figs parade all over my house. I imagine them like the army of soldiers in Toy Story. I close the door and they shout commands to each other, scaling walls, rappelling down staircases, hiding under furniture. Some are as audacious as to hide in my pillowcase.
Purely as an aside, I can handle many Lego-related injuries. I understand that kneeling on little pieces is inevitable; stepping on swords, unfortunate. But Lego in my BED?? That’s just going a bit too far.
Now, we spray-paint garbage cans to make Lego men costumes. We hoard and spray paint protein powder containers to make storage for the bazillion Lego pieces that evade organization. This morning, I plucked Lego men out of the milk jugs destined for the recycling bin and later out of the dish washer where they were nestled in the detergent compartment, awaiting their “bath”.
Now I get excited about Lego men when a few months ago I didn’t care.
This is the mystery of motherhood. You love what your children love. Because you love your kids. You become aware of things that you were blind to before. And you don’t just stop at awareness—you become a full-blown fan. What is important to them becomes important to you.
Long after bulldozers and building and Blackbirds are outgrown, I’ll look on them fondly, maybe even exclaim, “Oh look!” before I remember to stop myself.