Friday, August 13, 2010


One of my brothers lives far away. I mean far away. Not like hop in a car and drive for a few hours far away. More like make sure your passport is in order and learn how to ask where the nearest restroom is in another language far away.

Last week, I stopped by my parents’ house and, through the wonders of modern technology, we were able to talk in real time and see one another via video chat. I’m still blown away by the ability to do this as if I’m some octogenarian who still reluctantly uses a VCR. But aside from this dumbfounded amazement on my part, it was nice to see him.

A good deal of the conversation revolved around his little guy and my little guys waving toys in front of the webcam at each other. A puffer fish took up the entire screen at one point and there was a moment when a shark opened its massive jaws directly in front of the camera in a manner that would have had Spielberg and Cameron drooling over filming it in 3D.

I was quite impressed by the little fellow on my brother’s lap throughout our session. He showed us a Duplo Wall-E he had constructed, complete with opening door on his boxy chest. Then, he disassembled Wall-E without remorse, the cold, calculating decision of a master Lego builder who creates something and then immediately sees his creation as nothing more than the pieces necessary to make his next creation. He then immediately built an impromptu Duplo crocodile. In turn, the crocodile’s life span ended as it became a helicopter.

I was equally impressed by his raw building talent as I was his emotional detachment from what he’d just built. I told him we would all have to build together one day. I invited him to travel to our homeland where he would be granted unlimited access to his uncle and cousins’ Lego collection.

My brother has apparently explained to him that I used to build with Lego all the time and had even constructed a complete city in my basement as a kid. I’m sure he neglected to tell him how the town was destroyed from time to time, mostly by his friends when they came to the house.

“He says he wants to grow up to be like his uncle,” my brother told me, “because you still play with toys.”

I’m not sure if my brother meant to bust my balls with this comment. I don’t think he did. I think he meant it as a way to show that he talks about me. I was touched by this.

But even more than I was touched by my brother’s sentiment, I was moved by my nephew’s understanding at age four of who his uncle really is. My continuing love of Lego and for a great deal of things considered non-age-appropriate is something that I have just recently come to terms with. He was like a four-year-old Buddha, seeing things for what they are and accepting and appreciating them as such

I laughed at this at the time and we continued talking about other things. Updates on my grandmother. How work was going for everybody. What had been achieved on the most recent family fishing trip. The comment was left behind.

But days later, I still remember it and think about it. To have a four-year-old who wants to be like me because I still play with toys. Apparently, my security in admitting the fact that I still like to play on a daily basis is making waves. I’m sure my brother is doing a fantastic job of supporting his creativity and encouraging him to build and play, but if I have, in any way, influenced him to enjoy the things he loves every day as he grows up, free of any embarrassment, I will be very proud.

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