Lego The Next Generation
Growing up, Lego - and its larger but simpler sibling Duplo - was a huge deal for me. It was one of the first toys I was exposed to and the very last to be put away, well into my teens. It evolved and grew with me for over a decade, returning again sporadically into my adulthood in various forms.
Unlike many other transient childhood interests, my Lego was never discarded or given away. It sat undisturbed in boxes at my parents' house with the expectation that I would someday want it again, likely for my own children, were I to have any. Even some of the old Duplo was kept around, primarily to amuse children who might end up visiting my empty-nest parents.
When my first child was sufficiently advanced, we introduced him to Duplo. This began with a couple new sets given to us by others, followed by some select interesting old pieces I played with as a child expropriated from my parents' aging collection. I did not want to push him into it, but over time he came to choose it more and more often. Duplo has in short order become his go-to source of amusement, along with books and bothering his little brother. He especially loves building or demanding that I build cars, trucks, and other wheeled vehicles. As his dexterity improves, he increasingly constructs on his own, which is very satisfying to watch.
Lately he has become interested in "real" Lego over the more childish Duplo. He prefers the look of proper Lego sets, since they tend to be more intricate, detailed, and realistic. We gave him his first Lego set, a cherry picker, as a toilet-training reward. It was an instant hit - I have since rebuilt it for him dozens of times as he oscillates between wanting to play with it as-is and wanting to use the pieces for other purposes. As a followup, after three weeks of wearing underwear to daycare, I took him to the Lego store at the mall and got him a bucket of carefully selected pieces, primarily wheels, plates, and basic bricks with which to construct more vehicles. This has been very successful and well-received, although it is still tricky for him to manipulate the smaller pieces.
In addition to my older son, the rest of our family is enthusiastic about Lego. My younger son now goes directly for the Duplo, pushing past other toys in the process. He particularly likes to sift through the bin of pieces, occasionally picking one out for chewing. We believe that this is at least in part due to seeing his older brother playing with it and wanting to participate. My wife enjoys building Lego sets, which we've done at home a few times with sets that she specifically wanted, such as the Research Institute set. She has also collected some minifigures when particular ones have caught her fancy. Her sister's husband has an enormous collection of primarily super-hero and classic starwars sets on display, some of which we've helped to assemble.
All of this is, I hope, just the beginning of a long and fun life of tinkering and building for my kids. For the rest of us, our journey into Lego continues along.