You know how they say firstborns are often rule followers? Ours definitely falls in line with that theory. He has a strong sense of the “right” way to do things and is quick to correct those around him. His high standards often lean toward perfectionism born of a sincere desire to get something just right, just like he imagined it. It’s hard to convince him of the importance of trying, doing his best, even if he “fails” to measure up to his own ideal.
This is playing out majorly right now in his hands-down-favorite pastime: building LEGO. He’s excellent. He can easily follow the directions to build sets designed for pre-teens (he’s only 5). A strong sense of symmetry makes it easy for him to create within constraints like mixel creatures or, recently at Brick Fest Live, an activity provided only white architectural bricks and he could have stayed there all day adding to the large LEGO city participants were building. But when he wants to build something specific, like he has a picture in his head of what it should be, and he can’t seem to execute it well, intense frustration ensues.
I know it’s a process, he’s developing his design and trial-and-error skills with this new medium. Give him DUPLO and he can make just about anything he dreams up (super hero badges, his ever-changing favorite cartoon characters and vehicles, for example). Following the directions for LEGO sets is really helping to develop the tools to choose the right pieces and placement to carry out his vision. I’m saying all this to remind myself. As I try to cheer him on when he gets upset about not being able to produce his mental image exactly as he’d like to, I need to help him walk through this frustrating process.
Such is life, right? He will have to learn to persevere. Practice makes perfect, and all that. Okay, now I just feel like I’m preaching to myself! *sigh* Why is it this parenting gig gets all up in my business and I’m the one who ends up learning valuable lessons?
All that to say, when I need encouragement (to be able to keep encouraging Eddie) here’s what I want to recall, besides the pep talk above: he’s getting there.
Check this out! Last spring, he got the idea of making his own LEGO set, complete with directions. He built a few simple parts (which actually went well and came together easily for him, a win!) and set about drawing step by step “constructions” (a.k.a. instructions) like one might find in a real LEGO set. He needed lots of help with this part, but he stuck with it (Yay! Perseverance win!). The finished product is really remarkable for a 5 year old.
Remarkable. That’s what I want to remember when it seems like the challenge of free styling with LEGO (or any other medium for that matter) seems like nothing but frustration and failure. He is remarkable. He will get there.
Okay, now when I get frustrated and feel like I’m failing, I guess I’ll have to remind myself, “I will get there.” And keep persevering.