A few years back, I bought some Melissa and Doug wooden blocks for Joshua at Christmas time. I bought the “Standard Unit” and the “Architectural Unit”. They are really nice quality and I had visions of my brilliant little guy building castles and villages, sparking his interest in architectural or industrial design. Maybe civil engineering. Someday he would look back on these wooden blocks and say, “Thanks mom. It all started here.” I would save all the blocks for my grandkids to play with. These blocks were going to be heirlooms.
Well, in real life, Joshua didn’t play with them much. I’d find them all over the place. Not like carefully planned living spaces, but sprawled out all over the living room like they had been thrown. Sigh. I packed them up in a suitcase and they were happily contained for several years. Occasionally, I’d pull them out and deal with the sprawling chaos, but my wooden block expectations were sadly dashed.
Then a little girl named Grace came along. And she loves to build with blocks. She makes roads and zoos and houses and castles; pretty much everything I ever dreamed about. It’s fascinating to watch. One day, I noticed a block had markers scribbled all over it. WHAT? MY HEIRLOOMS! Over the next week, I noticed more and more blocks changing colors, but I never caught anyone in the act. Kaylee is our little artist, so I thought it might be her, but Grace is the block builder, so I wasn’t sure who was behind the graffiti.
One day, I finally called the girls over to the suitcase. “It looks like someone has been coloring on the blocks,” I calmly stated. They looked at me, not sure what to expect. “I think they look really pretty with colors. Here are some crayons, why don’t we color a few more together?” We had some arts and crafts time, then built a tower together.
I make plenty of parenting mistakes, but I think I nailed this one:
“It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.”
In fact, those blocks are more beautiful because of the imperfections, because of the colorful designs, because they capture my little artists at this sweet age. Someday I’m going to haul out that suitcase full of blocks for my grandkids and say, “Look, your mommy (or your aunt) drew this when she was a little girl! Let’s find a block that you can draw on today.”
Heirloom: a valuable object that is owned by a family for many years and passed from one generation to another (Webster)