Building Boys by Building Toys

For Christmas, my 5-year old son, N, received a Lego Coast Guard 4WD & Jet Scooter set. It had been languishing in his closet until he rediscovered it.

“Daddy, Daddy,” he screamed. “Can we build this?” I was a bit reluctant because what he really meant was, “Daddy, will you build this for me while I watch and badger you the whole time?” But his eager little face melted my resolve and I relented.

The 130 Lego pieces were divided into two bags – one for the truck, the other for the trailer and jet scooter (btw – I’m not sure that Coast Guard Seamen use jet skis to protect our waters). Before I could stop him, N had torn open both bags and scattered the contents across the living room floor. As my wife, K, will attest, I lack organizational skills, but I like order when I’m building something. When I was a child, I loved to build model cars. I would sort the pieces into five different piles: body parts, wheels and axles, chassis, interior, and engine parts. I placed them in a semi-circle around myself so I would have easy access to each piece. Here was my opportunity to teach this methodology to my son.

I reviewed the instructions then I asked N to sort the Lego pieces by color and arrange them in the sequence that they would be used. With all of the pieces neatly organized, I began the building process. I’m thankful that Lego didn’t hire the guy who writes the instructions for IKEA furniture or else I would be assembling the toy for the next few weeks.

Everything was going smoothly until N ruined the mood by asking, “When are you going to be done?” I was halfway done with the truck and I was hoping I could complete the entire project without hearing that question.

“Patience, my son,” I answered. “I’ll be done when I’m finished.”

“But when will that be?”

“Instead of asking when I’ll be done, why don’t you assist by assembling the tires?” Carefully placing each tire around its wheel, N made quick work of his task. I took the wheels and installed them on the truck. Part one was finished.

“Can I play with the truck while you finish the rest?” N asked expectantly. Since playing with the truck would keep him occupied while I completed the project, I agreed.

It took me about five more minutes to build the trailer, jet scooter, and outfit the coast guard figure. When I attached the trailer to the truck, N could hardly contain his glee.

Lego Coast Guard Play Set

“Thank you, Daddy,” he yelped.

“You’re welcome, son,” I said as I gave him a big hug.

For the next hour, N happily played with his newly built Lego set. Unfortunately, his joy was short-lived because his 1-year-old brother, X, immediately dismantled the toy after he woke up from his nap. What was once a cool Lego play set, is now a trail of miscellaneous Lego pieces strewn throughout my house that serve as a reminder of a few precious moments spent bonding with my son.

Stay Strong,

Mocha Dad

About author

Frederick J. Goodall

Frederick J. Goodall is the founder of Mocha Dad - a parenting website focused on fatherhood. He is passionate about parenting and helping men to be great dads, husbands, and role models. You can contact him at or on Twitter at