Wednesday, October 22, 2008

On Discovering My Son is a KABOB*

I've been a tad stressed about writing because this is my 100th post. A lot of people do something special for their 100th, such as writing 100 things about themselves. I've got squat! So I hope a regular post will do.

I’ve been meaning to share with you an event that Jake, Molly and I attended called Brick Fair. As you know, Jake is a huge Lego fan. On the first day of school when he told the class he wanted to be a Lego designer when he grew up, he said some kids laughed at him. So, when outraged Mommy found out there would be a Lego extravaganza in our town, I took him, hoping to support his passion.

Molly wasn’t psyched to go along, but she rose to the occasion. Thousands, yes thousands, of people lined up around the outside of a hotel waiting to get in. A woman with 3 kids and a stroller smoked in our faces as we waited—thanks Lego Mom! 45 minutes and $30 later we were in and surrounded by AFOL’s.

AFOL’s are Adult Fans of Legos. You see, while this event attracted numerous children, it was really a weekend convention geared to adults who still love to build with Legos. They painstaking planned, assembled, disassembled, transported and reassembled behemoth creations—castles, cities, bridges, a huge American flag, and mythical creatures—so they could share them with fellow AFOL’s and children. There were awesome robots. In one entire room, a huge chain reaction machine involving Legos, pulleys, computers and trains, transported little balls from one place to another. The men (yes, mostly men here) wore headsets and communicated with one another electronically. Jake was in heaven.

Now, I don’t mean to be harsh, but I know that Trekkies and Star Wars fans get mucho grief about how geeky they are. Let’s just say AFOL’s can hold their own in geekdom. While on the one hand I was encouraging Jake to explore his passion and assuring him he never need outgrow his Legos, I also inwardly hoped he wouldn’t become one of the AFOL’s walking around gushing at different creations, taking pictures, wielding an 8” x 8” jumbo Lego-covered name badge with nary a child in sight. I'm hoping he'll at least have a kid as a cover. A few young AFOL couples (matching plastic Lego badges, striped knees socks and overalls, no children) convinced me that Jake can one day find a woman to share his brick building passion.

I did crack up over one dad’s amazing creation—our favorite of Brick Fair. It was a humongous castle complete with secret passages, moats, a dungeon, a chapel, etc. dubbed “Kathryn’s Castle” in honor of his daughter. As he spends thousands of dollars adding to it in his basement, he can just tell his wife he’s doing it for his daughter. Yeah, right Dad.

Oh, AFOL’s are very touchy about, well, touching. Head bent over Lego bricks, no eye contact whatsoever, an AFOL can somehow sense if little fingers are sneaking close to a colorful brick. “Hands off!” they shout, never raising their eyes from their work. Jake already hates it when anyone goes near his Lego creations, so he will be well prepared for this aspect of AFOL-dom.

In all, Brick Fair rocked. I got to feel like a supportive mom, and of course I loved my window into a subculture I heretofore had no idea existed. Jake felt buoyed in the knowledge that he was not alone in his love for all things brick. Molly, well Molly got to get her shopping mojo on by buying a few trinkets for Jake and herself. Tom? He was at the office, which is good since he can’t stand crowds. Next year, however, is his turn. In fact, his mom and dad still have his old box of Legos from childhood, so Tom could still turn into an AFOL and I can be his NLS.

A few terms:
“Adult Fan Of LEGO or AFOL refers to those adult hobbyists who build with or collect LEGO. Quite often these people played with LEGO as children, went through what are called Dark Ages, in which their interest in LEGO waned, but then regained their enthusiasm for the hobby.”
NLSO - Non-LEGO Significant Other: the partners of AFOLs
NLS - Non-LEGO Spouse: like NLSO but requires marriage
NLF - Non-LEGO Friend: other people in the lives of AFOLs
*KABOB - Kid with a Bunch of Bricks


Kate Coveny Hood said...

My husband would LOVE that. He doesn't have the attention span to actually put the time in on one of those creations, but he has enough geek in him to appreciate it.

You are a good mom.

Shana said...

Way to go. That's some awful good mom'ing there. I get my does of geekdom at Girl Fest every year, which is the big Girl Scout extravaganza at the convention center, where there are as many "adult girl scouts" as there are kids, and where patch collection is a serious point of pride.