Today we went to what my littles call “Lego Building School.” It is put on by the local franchise of Bricks4Kidz, and my crew all love it. It is a combination of free play building with all sorts of Legos and a mini-class, where they learn about something and then build a model according to the directions they are given. In the past we have built mechanized spiders, a dragster, and a windmill. Like most things, it is the people who run it who make it the most fun. They love what they do, and they take the time to get to know the children there.
Last month the assigned project was a Venus Flytrap. Thanks to the lesson about them, my two became interested in these fascinating plants again, and we are on the lookout for one. We had my nephew with us that day, as my sister was in China and we asked my brother-in-law to let him join us. My little man paired up with his Daddy to build the Venus Flytrap model. My poor nephew was stuck with me. It was a complicated model, complete with friction bushings and gears that had to meet just so. Oh let’s face it, I was totally inadequate when it came to helping my sister’s baby boy with this. In the end, he gave up on me and wandered off to test the one the teacher had built. Correctly. Mine never would snap just right when triggered. One of the instructors tried to correct whatever it was that I done incorrectly, bless her. It was not salvageable. I left with my head down, feeling like I had let my nephew down. Though I don’t think he was much upset. He still got his mini-fig that he built to take home and a lunch of pizza after. I’m pretty sure he has let it go.
I only wish I could.
Today we arrived to find that we would be building two projects. As my two were the only ones there (whoo hoo!), they handed my husband a kit. One of the instructors asked if I would like one too. The shame from last month overshadowing me, I said rather meekly, “Oh no, I don’t think so.”
However the other instructor, Mr. Tom, did not hear me. He brought me a kit and a manual and told us we could start on our projects–a paper crimper. Okay. Sure. I was very hesitant as I pulled out the 1 by 12 tech plates and bushings and so on. But my confidence gained when my gears were moving together. Could it be I was on the right track? The Venus Flytrap in my mind whispered and giggled, “As if!” Oh my.
But there it was. The last step. I was finished, and I was ready to attach the battery. As I was the first one done, I had no idea exactly what it was supposed to look like. I gave the switch a flip and voila! It was running. I was handed a pile of 1/4″ wide paper strips. I ran one through. Coolest. Thing. Ever. (or at least this morning) So cool. It came out all crimped up like those fancy strips you can buy to put in gift baskets or bags. Awesome! Win. Soon all four of us were whirring paper through and laughing triumphantly.
Time to take it apart and build the second project–which was a stand for spiral art. It spun a plate in circles while you held a marker in place. Really cool art resulted.
As I was attempting to put the pieces back in their correct spot in the kit, I noticed a “Key to Difficulty” on the last page of the directions. Wow, I thought. I wonder how hard this one I just did was. I was probably a little full of myself at this point, I have to admit. I felt redeemed after last month’s failure. I just wish my nephew had been there to see me.
I turned to the front cover. A green dot. What did that stand for? I looked back. Green dot. Green dot. Green. Dot. Oh my. Easy. (Facile) Sigh. My spirits sank. I think I may heard the Venus Fly Trap snicker. I tried to let that go, and I put the Spiral Art Stand together. Again, no problem, and it was so much fun making the picture. I did not even look at its level of difficulty. I have a feeling I know. And there is the looming feeling that perhaps my failure last month is the reason for this month’s projects’ levels of difficulty?
It was this evening when a couple of things came to mind.
If I had let last month’s failure keep me from participating this month, I would have missed out on an awful lot of joy this time around. I mean, it was really, really fun. Lesson #1. As Mama and Daddy said, “Try, try again.” (Or “When you fall off the horse, you have to get back on.” Literally, in my case.) Pretty obvious, that one. But for some reason I have to keep learning it.
When I saw the level of difficulty, I let some of the joy escape for a minute or two. In a sense I was comparing myself to the “others” who set the skill level. Daddy often said in his later years, “When you compare, you lose.” Every. Single. Time. Errahday. Thank you, Daddy, for that reminder. Lesson #2.
When we have failures, no matter how little, it is hard to get back in the game. We tend to compare ourselves to how so-and-so or the generic “they” would have done it. But I’m thinking tonight we should give ourselves grace in these situations. Steps, even if they are baby ones, are still steps. Some days that’s just as good as it can get. And if we find joy in the “easy” or “simple,” so be it. We should embrace that. If it brings you joy, and it ain’t hurting anybody, don’t let anyone, especially not an old Venus Flytrap, tell you it’s not worth doing a jig over. Take that joy and hold it close. Joy don’t grow on trees, so when you do find some, treasure it. Even if it’s VERY FACILE.