Monday, June 14, 2010

Leggo-palooza? Lollapa-Lego! (8.7.08)

I'm officially old. My friend Christina said to get a gauge of your age in culture years, take a look at the Lollapalooza line-up and count how many bands you have heard of. Just heard the name, not own records from or can identify songs. I got about seven. According the inverse property, that makes me...uh, carry the nine...Old.

But on a outing with my two daughters to the new Lego Discovery Center, I found that we had a kind of a rock festival experience of our own.

For the rock show of the moment, I'm working purely on imagination and the Tribune coverage, but I think Lollapalooza and Lego Discovery had a surprising lot in common.

Transportation woes? Getting down to the lakefront and schlepping out to Schaumberg both have their own distinct challenges. For us, it was miles of traffic and acres of parking lots. But we will grin and bear it and make our own joy, right? Gratitude for the good and compassion for everything else is my new motto. And eat something every two hours.

Long lines to get in and get food? Lego's got it! After our long drive, I saw the crowd extending down the block and my heart sank. I somehow pictured a weekday being a slow day. Maybe in a few months, Cindy, but this particular weekday happened to be the first Monday after the place opened, the first day after the Tribune article with big color pictures. So after a few minutes of waiting ("Girls, stop hugging. Gentle! Separate. Okay, one of you on one side of me, one on the other. I will leave this line. Okay, that's it. We're done.") we bail and I take them down the block to some kind of game center called GameWorks - how bad can it be? Well... The atmosphere is murky and loud, a teenager's or tweener's dream. I'm agog at an actual Titanic arcade game. Oh, the humanity. What's next? Twin towers pinball? After playing enough games to earn four little tickets which the girls excitedly redeem for two plastic backscratchers, ("Girls, that's not a fork! What goes in your mouth? That’s right. Food only.") we find the Lego line is down to only twenty minutes!

Rage at the Machine? For us, that would be Mia inside GameWorks trying fruitlessly to grab a stuffed toy out of the bin with a floppy metal claw.

Sticker shock? Check. $19 for adults, $15 for each kid over two.

Crowd phobia? We witnessed lots of cooperation and patience, babies and toddlers sleeping through the din (including my three year old, in my arms, while my big girl scooted and clamored in the open play area), and few melt-downs. I did have a shiver when witnessing a mom in the line for lunch who took a Lego out of her daughter's mouth, then said, "go back and play while I wait here." See motto above. Breathe and repeat.

Amazing views of nature and city? Does the forest preserve across Route 53 count?

Mosh Pit? Make that the open bins of tiny Lego pieces where the kids could invent and build and create and play to their hearts' content for as long as they wanted. I think I'm still pulling tiny bits of plastic out of my ears and shoes.

Trippy alternate reality episode?
That would be the short 3-D movie that has the gentlest battle scene you can imagine.

The thrill of the new, the joy of discovery? We had it too. Witness the crinkly grins and trilling giggles of kids when they realize the chubby uniformed Lego man with the handlebar moustache makes a gassy sound when you step on his foot. Be astounded at the huge tigers, cunning monkeys and other amazing pixillated-looking animals created out of itty-bitty Danish blocks.

Non-scary dragon ride, like something out of Disneyland, complete with, yes, believe it, a G-rated torture dungeon? Sorry, Kanye. This one is pure Lego.

Great memories? In spades.

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