Wednesday, December 28, 2005

#102 - Woody... Kids... Difference?

There are two formulas (formulae?) that I have learned as a result of my adult experiences. I developed one which I call Woody's Postulate. Woody's Postulate states that, in any traditional family, the Mom shall have votes equal to every male in the house, plus one. This postulate is sometimes subtitled the "Men are Always Outnumbered" formula. It has proven true throughout my adult life, but I must confess in all fairness that my votes have been much more even with Mrs. Woody than at other times.

The second formula is not my own. It's just one of those pieces of conventional wisdom that everyone seems to know instinctively. In any given family, the Mom will always have the number of legal minors plus one to raise as "kids." This is always interpreted to mean that Dad is just another kid, and most moms I know happily carp about this fact to their friends, loved ones, and complete strangers. "I swear it's like having another kid in the house!" they will say, which generally leads to another round of "Anything Your Man Does, Mine Can Do Worse." (Note: I must, of course, exclude Mrs. Woody from this truism. She knows she has another big kid to raise, and it generally doesn't bother her, for reasons that will become clear later.)

A few years ago I mentioned to Mrs. Woody that I still enjoy playing with toys. I said this partly tongue-in-cheek. A wise man once told me that it was time to set aside childish things, and I've tried. Really I have. Comic books - gone. Model trains - shelved. Theatrical productions - minimized. However, in their place you now find a fascination with all things computerized, long-standing addictions to electronic games, and (gasp!) blogging. My conversation with Mrs. Woody was the old "what do you get someone who seems to have everything he/she needs?" that married people have from time to time. I mentioned at that time that I occasionally find myself envying kids who get neat toys for Christmas, and reminisced fondly about playing with Erector sets and electronics kits when I was a kid. She already knew that I have a fond hope of resurrecting my model railroad when the kids are older and we have a place to set it up, but the conversation planted a seed in her mind that has since grown into a nearly unmanageable shrub.

Three or four Christmases ago, sometime after the first Harry Potter movie came out, Mrs. Woody wanted to give me a special surprise. She had managed to go to the store with just herself and the Woodyettes, and found what she felt would be the perfect Christmas present for her child-like hubby: The Hogwarts Express set of Legos®, based on the movie.

Legos! I couldn't believe it! I was instantly enraptured because 1) I had never had a Legos set when I was a kid, and 2) it was the Hogwarts Express! She had heard me rhapsodize about the train when we went to see the movie, and it is still my feeling that the Express is one of the coolest parts of the HP movie series. But... Legos! Wow.

There was no way I could wait to put it together. So, one evening shortly after Christmas, we did. ("We," he says.) I actually enlisted Mrs. Woody's assistance on occasion, and the Woodyettes loved playing with the figures of Harry, Ron, and Hermione. But Mrs. Woody thoroughly enjoyed watching her eldest kid play with his toys, and that's when the inspiration struck: Legos are a family experience, she reasoned. The whole family gets to play. Why not encourage this particular behavior and get the whole Harry Potter series of Lego kits?

So we did. There were ten or eleven kits based on the first movie, and another dozen or more based on the second movie. We bought 'em all. Not all at once, mind you... Legos are expensive and even the smaller kits cost quite a bit more than they might seem to warrant. However, we were hooked. As each kit was produced, we placed them on the dining room table and set them up en tableau to document our progress. When the kits based on the third movie came out, we snatched them up before ever having seen the actual movie. But, oh, the fun we've been having as a family! As the Woodyettes get older they get to help do more actual building. In fact, they both have received Lego kits of their own (there are VERY FEW girl-themed Legos out there!), and each of them has at least two buckets of assorted bricks with which to build whatever they can dream up. Mrs. Woody also enjoys building, and we now have a process. We each build alternating steps of the kit, which doubles the fun.

When Mrs. Woody and I went to watch "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" at the theater the other day (the Woodyettes will not be watching this one any time soon!), we went with the knowledge that we already had obtained the GoF Lego sets (only four of them this time!) for Christmas. We anticipate the Legos nearly as much as we do the books and the movies, which is saying something.

So, yes, I freely admit that Woody is just a big kid. And, after all, these aren't toys; these are collectibles. There's a difference. The primary one being that, while most philatelists won't take their collections out to play with them, I will. Frequently. And Mrs. Woody will both aid and abet.

I think it's one of the reasons she loves me.

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