Those Danes are missing out on millions
OK, hear me out on this.
Lego has played a major role in my life ever since my boys were old enough to snap two bricks together. Throughout their childhoods there was a parade of Lego sets of all sizes and fandoms. They were a go-to gift for Christmas, and every year December 26th marked the takeover of the dining room table as the boys, especially my younger one, joyfully assembled their colorful plastic structures. Completed sets were displayed proudly on bookshelves in their bedrooms until they were dismantled for parts and were dumped into the giant Lego tub, ready for the next great building idea. Great life lessons have come from those little bricks. Lessons on teamwork, as the boys were forced to work together on some builds. Lessons about creativity, when there wasn’t money in the budget for some big fancy set and they had to dive into that tub and make something brilliant with the pieces they already had. And lessons about resilience when things didn’t quite go as planned, as was the case with the Great Millennium Falcon Crash of 2012. I won’t go into too many details, but lets just say that a little nine-year-old boy, having proudly completed the set that he had been wanting for ages, watched in horror as over 1200 pieces and hours of work were suddenly scattered all over the dining room floor. On his birthday.
While Boy #1 saw his interest in Lego wane as he got past the elementary years, his younger brother became even more of a brickhead as he got older. Now, at almost twenty years old, far too much of his part-time sub shop paycheck is set aside for his next trip to the Lego Store.
So yes, you might say we’re a Lego family. But as much time as the boys spent on these little projects, I never really had a chance to work on a set from start to finish. My job as the mom was to help find the littlest pieces, separate those pesky thin bricks because I was the only one in the house with fingernails, and to drop words of encouragement at random intervals. Oh, and to dodge the inevitable mislaid pieces on the hallway floor during middle-of-the-night trips to the bathroom.
But then Lego came out with their Botanicals line, and suddenly they had my attention. Boy #2 joked that maybe this would be the way to have flowers around the house that I couldn’t kill (I’d be mad at the little shit if that statement weren’t 100% accurate). I love succulents but I become Persephone, Bringer of Death whenever I buy one. And yes, I know they are supposed to be hard to kill, but my thumb is just that black, OK? Geez, don’t be so judgy so early in our friendship. Anyway, I was drawn to that particular set and considered buying it for myself several times over the past few months, but always talked myself out of it. And then this Christmas I ended up with an Amazon gift card in my stocking that just happened to be for the same amount as that particular set, and I had one of those “fuck it” moments and clicked my way to Lego happiness.
OK, I know you’re out there asking, “Jennifer, what the hell does all of this have to do with Lego for seniors? Do you have a point to make here or what?” And I promise I do have a point but this is also a good lesson for you to learn about me right up front before you commit to a long-term relationship with this newsletter. I am what you might call a bit of a rambler. My thoughts ramble, my writing rambles, and my family knows that if I say I have a story to tell them that they should prepare themselves for numerous tangents and at least one moment when I completely forget what I was originally talking about.
Anyway, back to my point. As I have gotten older a lot of physical stuff has changed (hellooooo, menopause), but one of the most prominent for me has been a reduction in my manual dexterity. My grip strength is nowhere near what it once was, and I seem to drop little things a lot more often that I used to. I know it’s a common thing that happens as you age, but it’s still annoying AF. Another change has been to my visual acuity. Yeah, I know that happens to just about everyone with time, but as someone who lived for forty years with perfect vision, having to wear bifocals now sucks.
And here’s the thing, and yes, we’ve finally arrived at the point of all this. As I was putting together my Lego succulent set, I realized that having to sort through all of those tiny pieces was actually a challenge – in a good way – for my less-than-perfect vision. And then, once I had found the rascally piece I had spent three minutes searching for, I had to use my fine motor skills to retrieve it and place it in its proper spot in the construction. And as I was doing all of this, I thought that this is a superb way to practice these skills. Such a repeated action – searching and grasping – felt like a good way to keep both of these abilities active and maybe actually improve them a bit.
So yes, I think that Lego is missing out on a huge untapped market. Think about it. My generation was one of the first to really go crazy for Lego, long before there was a set for every fandom or minifigs or crazy things like five-foot tall Eiffel Towers. And now we’re all hitting the back end of middle age, with arthritis slowly invading our joints, and our eyeglass prescriptions seeming to change more often than my kids change college majors. Giving us old-timers some sets designed just for us (Walker Texas Ranger? The Golden Girls? A rotary phone?) would not only have the above mentioned benefits, but it would also provide us with something to do in our retirement and a way to connect with the grandkids. Are you listening, Lego? The old fogies have spoken!