It has taken two days for The Builder to prepare the space. There are a selection of vehicles placed with precision around the construction area. Several tiny lego onlookers stand or sit facing the building zone. Finally the miniature conveyor belt and small scarlet wheelbarrow take up their positions to the east. The box is opened.
Lego is something we have always done together. Shared time, shared experience, teamwork. My job is to separate the bricks by colour. The Builder opens the instruction manual and looks at me expectantly. I must find the required bricks swiftly and load them one by one onto the conveyor belt. He slowly rolls the wheel of the conveyor belt between his thumb and index finger and the lone brick completes the first part of it’s journey and drops onto the table.
The wheelbarrow is poised. The brick is placed into it and rolled a few inches across the table to the assembly area. It can only accommodate one brick at a time and, once emptied, ambles back for the next one.
One hour in and I hate the bloody wheelbarrow. Two hours in and I want to incinerate the wheelbarrow and pass the conveyor belt through an industrial shredder. I have tried and failed to distract The Builder away from them both to no avail – I am never going to be able to simply pass the bricks to him across the table. My father once offered to help. Within half an hour his face had actually turned grey and he had to remove himself from the table. This is not for the faint-hearted and certainly not for anyone who believes that The Builder is being awkward on purpose. I must grit my teeth and power on. Shared time etc…
My eyes survey the room in desperation. I can feel my bones ageing . I’m gripped in a sort of panic. It wasn’t so bad when we were just building small vehicles; they didn’t take long and I could sometimes surge ahead by carefully loading several bricks at a time on the conveyor belt, momentarily escaping to the kettle or the radio. But if my concentration wanes, so does his, so on on.
We enter the third hour. I am still alive and so is he. I have stopped fighting in my head and I can just concentrate on the fact that we are together, chatting and having a laugh. The construction continues but becomes almost incidental. Besides, after this we start a two storey building with a roof terrace. We’re in for the long haul.
The Builder is happy. He is working at his own pace, in his own way and will end up with exactly what he wanted in the first place. It really doesn’t matter how long it takes.
Martha Smith Parent Advocate is a supportive blog focusing on the challenges and wins of parenting children with additional needs. Based in Hampshire Martha runs workshops for schools and other education providers in Surrey, London & Hampshire on how to encourage children with additional needs to thrive in education.