It began about a week ago.

“What’s the date, mommy?” Caleb would ask.

And then he would carefully count from whatever that date was, to the 29th.

Oh well, that makes sense, you say, because the 29th is the first official day of summer vacation for NYC public school students.

Nope. That’s not it at all. The 29th was the official opening of the Lego Store in Rockefeller Center.

The Lego Store, aka mecca, aka the shop of the holy grail, aka the no-you-don’t-have-enough-pieces-already emporium.

A trip to the store did not occur just out of the kindness of my heart, oh no. I’m the mean mommy, remember?  It happened because back in December, we had decided to… incentivize, let’s say, Caleb’s reading progress. At that point, he seemed reluctant to tackle anything other than the easiest books and—much more worrisome, he was gave up as soon as he encountered a difficult word. We wanted to help him find a reason to work through the harder words, and so we promised him that if he reached the end-of-year goal set by his teacher, he would get a Lego set of some magnitude.

Ever since the “incentive program” was put in place, Caleb pored over his Lego catalogs like a Talmudic scholar, weighing the merits of Space Police versus Pirates versus Atlantis.  (And worked at his reading, thirty minutes a night, making slow but steady progress towards where his teacher wanted him to be.  The lesson here, of course, is that greed can be a powerful pedagogical tool.)

What Caleb loves most of all are the mini-figures, the little people that populate lego-world. Caleb uses these figures to create elaborate narratives that he doesn’t realize put his entire subconscious on display–as well as his startling talent for making blowing-up sounds.

You can imagine, then, the joy with which the announcement of the Lego Store was received and why the 29th became such a shining day on Caleb’s personal calendar.

I’m on Caleb detail this entire week, actually, because Liam is in soccer camp, and Husband is finishing a book (so his ever-loving wife has offered to be the SAHM this week, and yes, dooce readers, that does translate to shit-ass-ho-motherfucker).

I told myself that I would travel on Caleb time and not do as I usually do with my second child, which is to hustle his ass hither and yon as we go from school to soccer to karate to errands…So he set our timetable today, which was to be at the Lego Store WHEN IT OPENED. Caleb customized a shirt for the big day:

IMG_1508I had visions of Apple Store-esque lines, but it was, by New York standards, a totally manageable crowd, all of whom roared approvingly when the doors to the shop opened on the dot of 8AM.

We were in the store for more than an hour, perusing the shelves, examining all the lego vignettes that were set up inside viewing windows in the store, asking ourselves how they built the dragon tail that undulated across the ceiling.IMG_1514

There were grownups there, cheerfully unaccompanied by kids, including two guys loading up what looked like plastic deli containers with lego pieces from the huge parts wall. They said they were architecture students but I think they were just there because they loved legos:


Caleb made his selections and we made our way home, where for the first time ever, Caleb put together an incredibly complex set, with only a little help from Mommy, who served primarily as piece finder.

Can I tell you that building those goddamn things is both utterly engrossing and as boring as watching paint dry? Somewhere in the second hour of building (we took a lunch break, don’t worry), both of us just wanted to be finished, but because I refused to build it without him, Caleb stuck to it.

The finished product, all three hundred and ninety one goddamn pieces of it:


I think it means he’s ready for first grade.