We were building a city bus. This was the goal. A 45-step process. We did 44 of the steps. We realized too late tonight (post bedtime) that we forgot the driver. And the passenger. Make that 43 steps.
Screw the driver and passenger. We're not telling anybody.
This Lego City was Tyler's birthday present, but he can't do it on his own yet. Tucker and I put together the skateboard/bicycle shop, and Mom and Tyler began the city bus. But Tyler became more interested in attaching heads to bodies and buying a skateboard from the new shop owner.
So I moved over to help Mom at the bus factory.
Jobs were assigned: Directions Coordinators, Parts Distributors, and Chief Bus Builder. (Me, naturally.)
Tucker got carried away blowing headlights across the table. Tyler came in and out of the scene, depending on his interest and where we were in the process. His very favorite part is putting on wheels.
This was step 42. So, he lingered.
As Chief Builder, I soon developed a vocabulary to shout across the table to the Parts Distributor.
"I need three black flatties."
"Wait. More than three. Six."
"I only have five."
"Tuck, do you have a black flatty?"
"A black flatty? Or a black fatty?"
"A black flatty. Oh, wait - yes. AND a black fatty."
"I need a rectangle triangle piece."
"Tricia, rectangle or triangle?"
"A rectangle triangle."
"Oh, you mean a sliding board." (Turns out, she too has a vocabulary of her own.)
"Tuck, be careful with those headlights. We'll need them soon."
"Head lice? Who needs head lice?" pipes in my dad.
"Headlights, Dad. Headlights. And two yellow longies, and a blue fatty."
"I have a blue skinny pants... need that?"
Then I put two yellow flatties on top of two black flatties, only to realize they didn't match the directions. Oopsie daisy.
Mom has never been known for the strength of her fingernails, and I have never been known to use mine as pliers. So I handed them to Dad. 'Cause who has better fingernails than Dad?
He was at least willing. The first time.
He separated and returned. I put them back together, thinking I had been right all along, only to realize I was wrong about being right. "Hey, Dad? Can you take apart these long flatties?"
"If I do, would you not put them together again?"
"Sure." Except I did. Three more times. (Always sure I was right.)
"Tucker, the headlights. Please. Keep them close. This is no time to blow them off the table. We'll need them."
"Where's the blue longie? I need a blue longie. Blue longie. Blue longie. Anyone?"
Tyler has it in his hot little hand. "I was saving it." Right. Well, now's the moment for the big unveiling. Hand over the blue longie and nobody gets hurt.
"Tuck, headlights, please."
"I only have one now, Mommy."
Right. Of course. They've been blown off the table.
Turns out, golden headlights match wood floors quite seamlessly.
Boys were under my elbow, dancing on chairs, blowing out headlights, and saving important pieces for future projects, yet undesigned. I may or may not have been heard to say, "What the H-E?!?" (My personal abbreviation in the presence of little parrots.)
It was quite the project.
In the end, we had a city bus. Complete with windows, swinging doors (half with handles, half without, no idea where the other handles are), headlights, and five red seats. (No driver or passenger. See above.)
I handed it to Tyler, and he looked it over for quality control. "Hey, Mommy? This looks a little bit like a bus."
A little bit. Thank you, son.
(Is it bedtime yet?)
Have you seen the movie Ghost? Patric Swayze? Whoopi Goldburg? Demi Moore?
I thought of it many times. In the movie, Sam sits near Molly in her daily life, watching her closely, even coaching from his invisible standpoint.
Now, I know Robb is in heaven; he's not the Patrick Swayze ghost in my life. Still, it was easy to imagine him in the empty chair across the table. I imagined him shaking his head, rolling his eyes at my Lego vocabulary, catching flying headlights, and saying, "Don't ask me to take 'em apart. I'm the one with fat fingers."
Just as Sam lifts the penny into the air to show Molly that he's there, I pictured Robb nudging the six-dotted red fatty across the table at just the right moment.
I'm bummed he missed the Lego scene.
It's pretty great.
p. s. I realized, putting away the parts and directions that remain for the rest of the Lego City, that I hadn't put on the stickers to depict the ads on the side of the bus. Make that 41 steps. (That's our secret.)