The Building Blocks Of Childhood

When I was a boy, one of my favorite pastimes was playing with Legos. The great thing about Legos was that with enough blocks and a little imagination, you could create almost anything.

A grown-up way to play with Legos!

I can remember my mom and dad cursing when they stepped on a lost or neglected block in the middle of the night, then threatening to take away the Legos forever if we didn’t pick them all up the following day. But for some reason, they never did. For that, I am grateful.

It never really occurred to me how expensive those little toy plastic blocks were. I’m sure that at one time, each and every piece belonged to a specific set. However, with four boys and hundreds, if not thousands, of little blocks, they eventually all wound up in a plastic tub inside the toy box.

Over time, some of those pieces got lost to the vacuum cleaner, or the dog decided he needed a new chew toy (or worse, thought they were a Scooby Snack). But that tub was filled with Legos of every size, shape, and color imaginable, just waiting to become a part of some fantasy contraption that only a child’s mind could envision.

Every weekend, we sat for what seemed like hours in the living room, watching Saturday morning cartoons. While watching television, we would sometimes build our own version of the cartoon world that held our attention.

If we got bored, we would build Lego forts and bunkers for our little green army men. Some days we built fighter jets, and other days we built spaceships that would take us far into other galaxies--or rooms of the house--to explore new planets for the good of mankind.

Somewhere around the age of 12 or 13, I lost my affinity for Legos. Maybe I discovered girls, or maybe it was video games, but eventually that old plastic tub lost its appeal, and those little plastic blocks that had played such an active role in my childhood development were forgotten.

Recently, my mom was going through some old boxes of things from our childhood and found that old plastic tub. It wasn’t quite as full as it once was, and the blocks seemed a little less shiny, but I couldn’t help but smile as the flood of happy memories instantly returned.

As grownups, we are supposed to act our age, and it probably isn’t appropriate to steal and play with our children’s toys. I do not have children, so I cannot be accused of such crimes.

But recently I was at a local Barnes & Noble bookstore and saw a display of Architectural Series Lego sets. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw Lego renditions of the Seattle Space Needle, The Empire State Building, The Farnsworth House, Falling Water, and many others.

Suddenly, there I was, an 8-year-old kid standing in a 39-year-old man’s body, and for a brief few moments, everything was right with the world.

Now that I’m an adult, I have more of an appreciation for the cost of those little plastic blocks than I did 30 years ago. While I would love to one day own the entire collection, I will have to budget for those more pricey sets.

For my birthday this year, I started with two--Falling Water and The Farnsworth House (pictured above). Yes, it seems even Lego has found a way to appeal to the inner child of this adult.

Do you have a special toy from your childhood that instantly transports you back in time the moment you see it in a store or in your child’s toy box? If so, I’d love to hear about it. Feel free to leave a comment below, send me a tweet, or even an email. I look forward to hearing from you.

Have a great weekend!

Boyd Coleman is a landscape architect in Phoenix, Arizona. He can be reached on twitter at @CDGLA or email: