It seems we have very few true recognized rights of passage in our modern western culture today. This is something my husband and I have lamented and discussed periodically, recognizing that rights of passage help an individual find and internalize personal identity, dignity, strength, sense of belonging, and value. Within the separate spectra of religion and spirituality, education, certain elements of individual cultural heritage, and age landmarks, we do have some. And a few very unofficial rights of passage in daily life, as a whole. But quite often, I believe, we actually experience certain very common, rather subconscious rights of passage, without really recognizing them as such.
This morning, after realizing that things upstairs had been rather quiet for a while, I went up to check on the kids. As I stepped into my son’s room, my eyes were immediately drawn to the expanse of his carpeted floor. Covering pretty much every inch, were brightly-colored Legos. Tons of Legos. A massive amount of Legos. And my son was standing in the midst of it, with the biggest smile stretched across his little precious four-year-old face. He grinned at me, big blue-green eyes wide like saucers and crinkling at the edges, and he said, “Mommy! Look what I built! It’s a spaceship…well, actually it’s a superhero turtle that’s also a spaceship…‘cause, look, it carries it’s home on it’s back, right here…and also it can fly through OUTER SPACE!” Infinitely creative, this kid.
“That’s so cool, buddy! Wow! Way to use your imagination!” I responded, and he then went on to explain a bit more about his superhero-turtle-spaceship. “And who’s this guy, then?” I asked a few moments later, as I reached down to inspect another creation involving a little Lego guy, pieced together – in true Frankenstein’s-Monster fashion – out of various parts from a motocross figure, an alien, an astronaut, a sheriff, and a couple of different Star Wars characters, and was apparently wielding a gun/sword/lightsaber thing and standing on some sort of ship.
“That’s Aragorn, Mom!” said my little boy, in a voice that told me I might just be a little slow on the uptake for not knowing that automatically. “Because, Mom, look…(and here he let out a little huff with a very tiny hint of exasperation)…I’ll show you,” and he began to take a step toward me. Then he suddenly stopped and looked down at his bare feet. After a moment or two of consideration, he oh-so-cautiously resumed his forward movement, very carefully picking his way across his floor on his toes, finding any little inch of bare carpet. I didn’t think this venture would end well, but my son soon surprised me by deftly managing to avoid the classically catastrophic results of a pointy-edged Lego coming into direct contact with a bare foot. And at that moment I was struck by a thought: This is a right of passage. Legos. Walking across a floor covered in Legos. Seriously. In some small way, it’s our culture’s kid-version of fire-walking. Pour out the Legos on the floor, and…GO! If you can make it across without massive and incapacitating pain, you win. And you then get to continue making bigger, better, and more complex inventions out of thousands of tiny plastic interlocking pieces.
Pretty much every kid – and every parent – just has to step on a Lego at some point. We’ve all done it. It’s a common and uniting experience. Even a nostalgia, of sorts: (and I quote) “So how bad is the pain? On a scale of 1 to stepping-on-a-Lego…”
So I smiled at my son as he explained all the things that his “Aragorn” character could do. Apparently he and the spaceship-turtle were both superheroes who were chasing the bad guys through space…and Aragorn was the turtle’s dad…or something along those lines. And this made perfect sense in the vast expanse of a four-year-old mind… Of course.
All that said, Hooray, Legos! We’re thankful for you…even for all the pointy edges. Though I’m pretty sure I’ll stick to wearing shoes when my son calls me up to his room to check out his latest creations. 😉