Thursday, June 4, 2009

A Tale of Too Many LEGOs (drafted a few months ago)

Yes, you can actually have too many LEGOs. I know, it’s almost blasphemous, but it is true. I found this out several years ago when we were blessed with a bounteous gift of LEGOs. One of the families on our local homeschool loop posted “free garage sale leftovers” including a couple of boxes of LEGOs. Having at the time two boys and expecting a third, I jumped on it, and being the first to respond, by a mere five minutes or so, I was given the green light to come pick them up.

I showed up at this nice family’s home, and they helped me load the booty into my van. Thank goodness I had a van, because I’m not sure it would have all fit into a smaller car. There were about four boxes. Now, I’m not talking about shoe boxes. I’m not even talking about book boxes. I’m talking about BOXES, the kind that are labeled “medium” when you buy them at the box store or storage place. If you took four tall kitchen trash bags and loaded them to near-bursting with LEGOs, you’d get an idea how many blocks we’re talking about here. I figure close to a zillion or so. The best part of this gift, though, was that this family also passed down to us the instruction booklets for every one of the kits that was rattling around in those boxes in a zillion pieces. Thank goodness, someone more compulsive than me.

So, I showed up at home with our booty and two very excited young boys. I asked hubby to bring them in from the van, which resulted in a sort of “oh, my, gosh, what have you found” gleeful grin, and he plopped the boxes on the living room floor. Naturally, our oldest wanted to IMMEDIATELY dig in and start building something. That’s when I discovered that there absolutely CAN be TOO MANY LEGOs. Brother Bear (then about five years old) wanted to build the pirate ship (naturally), I pulled out the perfectly preserved instruction booklet, and since I had been designated “digger”, I started digging through the boxes of LEGOs to find the pieces we needed, in the order we needed them. Ummmmm. “needle in a haystack” might just begin to approach this task. Especially when it came to finding the itty bitty teenie weenie (aka 1x1flat w/appendage) parts that were used to hold the flaps on the side of the ship that cover the cannons. And, we needed a lot of them. Sort of like a mom’s purse, the most urgently needed item always sifts down to the very bottom. Of four boxes.

Okay, that didn’t work out so well. So, now it was time to figure out how to organize all these LEGOs in a way that we could actually use them. I had some stacking bins, and that seemed like a good place to start. But, where to start? Well, for some inane reason, I started out by sorting by color, until my youngest brother, the engineer, came for a very timely visit and commented that, if it were he, he would sort them by utility. Duh. So, I started to try to figure out how to sort them by utility. And, I did.

LEGO Central
Now, for those of you who are neither obsessive nor compulsive, this may seem like a fairly straightforward task. But, for those of us who tend to be distracted by the minutiae of life in our attempts to keep every detail neatly tucked away in its appropriately labeled little box, sorting LEGOs by utility is not as easy as it sounds. Sure, the larger categories are easy enough. We’ve got 1xflats, 2xflats, large flats, 1xtalls and 2xtalls, but then what? Slants, wheels, pirate stuff, peopleplantandanimal stuff, and doors&windows. And then, you start ending up with all these specialty pieces. Stuff I never saw when I was building LEGOs with my brothers as a child, because “kits” hadn’t been invented yet. We just had blocks, not specialty pieces. How do you sort those things? Well, eventually I came up with “parts”, “medium odd”, “small odd”, and “tiny odd”. Don’t even ask me how much I stress everytime I have to decide between a large “tiny” and a tiny “medium”. It’s about as close to hell as I ever want to get.

But, overall, it’s worked. The boys can find what they’re looking for most of the time. Every couple of months I have to have a wholesale “disassemble all of your half-finished projects and dump it in the sorter so I can sort LEGOs day”. And, of course, anytime we have little friends over, the first rule that is calmly and kindly reiterated is “never dump the bins onto the floor, and, for goodness sake, don’t put anything back into a bin unless you are absolutely positive you know it goes there FOR SURE!” Said very calmly, of course.

Now, back to my sorting….

1 comment:

  1. Wow, you are one dedicated mama! I'm an OCDer myself, and I stop at one giant bin for legos, one for Bionicles, one for action figures. I'm not worthy!