It was hopeless. He was gone for good.
I watched his lifeless, broken body lie motionless, a good fifty feet below us.
He’d paid the price for his carelessness and now it was up to us to extricate him – literally- from the life threatening jaws of defeat he was now locked in.
But how? The only tools at our disposable were a couple lines of string, a small fish hook, a magnet and some half-chewed Trident.
Amazingly, despite the failure of our initial scheme, my son’s out of the box thinking yielded the triumphant plan of snagging not the injured soldier but the entire wormhole he was trapped in (AKA our laundry basket) with multiple ropes and gradually hauling him up to the safety of the planet surface (the top of his bunk bed.) General Quasar lived to see another day and we were heroes, Saviors of the Universe.
So ended one of our patented, fun and fantasy-filled Lego Missions.
Some parents can’t shut it all off and submerge in this world of make-believe as they used to. Not SuperDuperDad. In fact, some might argue it’s my forte.
Before one of these “missions” I will often hide some injured troops, write up some garbled secret code (for SDK to painstakingly decipher) and lay out a general storyline.
Sounds ridiculous, no? But man, does the little guy love every second, including the many minutes of preparation as we build our spacecraft, hone battle skills and test weapons systems in advance of these critically important voyages.
The other day, SDK was more than mildly disappointed when we had to postpone a mission we’d been building up to since the previous night. Basically, Jaba the Hutt had to be transported in a small convoy of ships to the ummm… National Justice Association for Re-Education and there were quite a few spies and other unsavory types casing out the prep site and… well, anyway despite all our preparation the night before we awoke to a gorgeous Sunday afternoon and I decided we should hop on the turbo-cycles (bikes to you mortals) and I would finally show him my running route.
Despite his whiny declarations of hunger, we soon arrived at one of those oddly quiet stretches of road where Williamsburg meets the water to find police cars and barricades. We were mildly confused. But what luck! I’d forgotten it was the day of the Five Borough Bike Tour.
After watching the first wave of cyclists careen past, we joined the hopped-up throng and biked a mile or so until we hungrily circled back towards Fresh Fanatic, that bastion of luxurious gentrification on otherwise still-grimy Atlantic Ave. This vast market/café has pretty much everything any discriminating gourmand could ask for, from organic dried fruit snacks and Gimme Coffee to a whole host of all-natural synthetics! (Haha… OK I made that last one up.)
SDK’s bagel with egg, cheese and bacon was big, thick and satisfyingly greasy, a man-sized meal indeed. (I was too busy working through my extended Passover no-carb-o-thon to try it, sadly.) My omelette was also quite good though the real winner was the excellent iced coffee, made from superb Stumptown beans. It was far darker and richer than I’d thought it would be, coming off the downtrodden sidewalks of Atlantic. Afterwards we headed over to the pleasingly sprawling Commodore Barry Park to play some handball, soccer and to time each other’s best seventy-yard dash.
It was a beautiful day with a not-too-blazing sun and a cool breeze balancing each other out perfectly. Between activities we sat motionless, reflrecting for several minutes at a time, just soaking in the quiet interspersed with the sound of the endless bikers whizzing past.
All in all, it was a superb Sunday morning. I was reminded again, as I have been so many times about the resilience of a child’s sense of fun and curiosity. You don’t need to plan a major interstellar mission, spend sixty-five bucks on Broadway tickets or travel two and a half hours to the ocean to make a kid smile and enjoy himself. Children have a built in sense of joy and fun ready to be activated in them at any time. Up to that nine or ten year old level in particular, they can find anything and everything fascinating, especially when it’s presented in the right way.
It’s my belief that this ability is somehow part of the natural order of things, the same way that a baby is made so damn cute that we have no choice but to nurture and take care of it despite it’s exhausting needs and requirements. This built-in ability to be entertained and involved is what makes kids so easy to raise, to invent with, to entertain, time and time again. And they give back as much as we give to them when we’re reminded to explore, imagine and be kids again ourselves.