Phot by: Pascal

It’s been a while since I stabbed my foot on an overpriced plastic building block.

They used to litter the hall and creep between the sofa cushions. It was as if they were summoned from thin air. No matter how many drawers and containers we had, they couldn’t handle the deluge. After a warning I would vacuum them up, small boys running in front of me to rescue the very best ones.

Once they had been returned to the bins, they inevitably sunk to the bottom which led to furious digging, blocks flying, kids whining. And there were creations. Some clearly vehicles, others… not quite identifiable. There were orderly patterns and haphazard towers. Each windowsill held a new version of imagination come to life in plastic. Until it held the next one.

We moved across the country a year ago and the boys carefully collected each block from under the rugs and the backs of now-empty drawers. They would make it to the new house. They would spill out of their bins onto floors and into sock drawers. Soon they would be made into things, make it onto windowsills and mantles. They would help us claim the new house.

Except they didn’t. They never got unpacked.

The physical blocks have been replaced by virtual ones as Minecraft has taken over free time. Every evening after dinner I hear my eight year old Skype with his modern-day pen pal. They’ve been friends for three years. They met on a Minecraft server and hang out almost every day. Not just playing online but video chatting, showing each other new sneakers and, at least for the other boy, new haircuts.

It is a virtual playdate, and it has no use for Legos in their blocky real world-ness.

Walking towards the front door on the first morning of school I trail my fifth and third graders to steal my goodbye kiss. I have to grab the older one as he darts out the door towards his friends cutting across our lawn. The younger one turns and melts into me for his kiss. I reach my arms around him for a hug but am denied by his enormous black hole of a backpack. As far as I can tell things that enter the pack never to come out.

Instead of the hug I lean down to kiss his gleaming long hair, and the top of his head hits my lips. I reach a hand to soften the sting. He is inches taller than the last time I kissed him goodbye for school.

I peer through the small window in our arched front door. He doesn’t run with the joy of his brother. But he doesn’t look back either.

I stand in the front hall holding my tea, wishing I had some Legos left to dodge on the way back to the kitchen.


Anna Rosenblum Palmer writes about depression, parenting, and cat pee. Three things she can’t seem to live without.

Photo: Pascal

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